Joni Kiser’s Spot and Stalk Gator Hunt!

By Joni Kiser Prois Staffer and Prois dealer at Full Curl Archer in Anchorage AK

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“Joni. Seriously. What the hell are we doing out here?” Jayme whispered to me. There we were, kneeling down in tall grass in the edge of the swamp. Our guide, Glen, had left us there to go and set up an electronic alligator call off the the right of us, up the bank about 50 yards away. In the grass all around us were spiders. BIG spiders. Now to many, the fact that spiders creeped us out sounds silly, we were after all, tough Alaskan chicks. We were bear hunters. In fact in 2012, I took a Pope and Young Brown Bear with my bow, so if I could do that, then how in the world could a bunch of spiders freak me out? I guess it just depends what you are used to! We don’t have many spiders, let alone big poisonous ones in Alaska. We don’t have snakes or anything of that sort either. The things that can hurt you in the woods in Alaska are big, huge actually, and you can see them coming! They don’t crawl up on you without you knowing like these spiders that were as big as my fist were trying to do! Jayme was looking all around her in the weeds, trying to flip the spiders back away from crawling up on her. Glen started the baby alligator distress call and came back and we hunched down to wait.

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Usually an alligator bowhunt is done out of a boat. It is a much safer alternative, its alot easier to get close and you have a far better opportunity for shot placement. But in my mind, a spot and stalk alligator hunt with a bow sounded alot more exciting! Over the course of the first 3 days of the hunt we tried calling them in from various locations, spotting them from afar sunning themselves on the bank and stalking in on them and were were having trouble getting within a good bow range. I knew I had the boat option as an alternative but I REALLY wanted to stick it out and get it on land. The alligators eye sight and hearing is great, so getting close enough for a good shot was tough; especially with the 850 grain arrow that is needed to punch through their thick hide. I needed to be 15 yards or less! The guide warned me that out of over 720 hunts that he had guided, he had only done 5 of the hunts as spot and stalk, and of those 5 – one got too freaked out and called it off. And these were all men, he had not ever had a woman do spot and stalk before. This just fueled me more. I was taking this beast on land up close and personal!

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Day 4 we hiked out to a little peninsula that stuck out into a huge lake. We had seen several gators swimming in the lake and were going to try to call some in. We were walking single file down the bank and through the marshy grass. I looked down to my right and saw a snake sunning itself on the bank. I pointed down to my right and said “snake” softly over my shoulder to Jayme so she wouldn’t step on it. We walked another 10-15 ft and crouched down in the weeds. I whispered to the guide, “theres a snake right there in the weeds” and described its markings. He said, “oh its probably harmless,” but I could see the wheels turning in his head. A minute or 2 later he crawled over to the waters edge to take a look and came back and whispered, “Uh, guys, thats a Water Moccasin and their deadly, just don’t go over there, and keep an eye out.” Hmm… not too comforting for someone who had never seen a snake in the wild before! Jayme’s eyes were huge and she whispered to me, “couldn’t it just sneak over here in the weeds?” I shrugged, I really wanted a gator so I was just trying to not worry about it. The guide started calling and immediately the gators responded. We joked that he was the “Alligator Whisperer” because when he called vocally rather than using the electronic call – they would make a bee line for him! Right away we could see 5 different gators that were swimming towards us from all different directions. Now you have to imagine: you are on a thin peninsula sticking out with water on 3 sides of you, crouched down in tall grass you can barely see over with Big Old spiders crawling all around you, a deadly snake laying in the grass about 10 feet away and 5 different alligators are headed toward you – responding to a baby alligator call because they think he is in distress and they want to EAT him. I am not gonna lie, our hearts were pounding! One gator was now about 10 yards away out in the water, but everything was under except its eyes. Glen whispered, “thats a female, she’s real close, keep an eye on her she’s watching us.” Jayme’s nerves were getting the best of her and she said, “Oh hell no!” when she realized how close it was and started to slowly raise up and back up. I grabbed the back of her belt and pulled her back down in the weeds. “It can jump from there to here very quickly if it thinks you are food, stay down!” She looked white as a ghost. She kept looking back over her shoulder and I figured she was checking for the snake. Then she whispered, “there is one right behind us” and Glen says, “no I don’t think so.” He and I are focused on the one in front of us which was now moving forward to shore. Glen got a better look and said “she’s about 9 foot, I think you can do better.” About that time Jayme was frantically tapping on Glens shoulder looking behind her, “Glen! It is RIGHT there, I see its CLAW!” and her voice raised a little louder. Suddenly there wa a huge Splash! A gator spun and dove into the water. Not the one in front of us, but a huge one behind us, which Glen later estimated was close to 12 feet long. It had snuck up on land behind us! We were now all shaking, it had been less than 5 yards away, ovbiously watching us, and we hadn’t even known it was there! But there was no time to worry about that because we needed to deal with the one in front of us which now had its head up on shore and was only about 4 yards away. She would easily be able to jump from where she was to where we were in a moment. Glen whispered, “just shoot her right in the forehead.” “What?” I said, I was so confused. “Right in the head, you don’t have a good shot on her anyhow, but she isn’t backing off so that will scare her and she will just swim off.” He’s the gator whisperer so I didn’t argue, I drew and shot her right in the head. My 250 grain, razor sharp broadhead bounced off her like a rubber ball, not even breaking the skin. She spun around with a huge splash and swam off. Jayme and I looked at each other in disbelief, we were both shaking from the last 10 minutes of excitement and finally stood up and walked back up the hill. Jayme said, “my nerves are shot. I am just about over this, its really intense!”

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At this point I knew she was wondering how in the world I talked her into coming with my on this hunt – for only her 2nd hunt ever, and I was feeling a little guilty for putting her in situations where she was afraid for her life! Meanwhile, my mind was racing. I’ve never bounced an arrow off anything in my life. Everything I have ever shot has been a full pass through. Glen explained that I did exactly what he wanted me to do and that he knew it was going to bounce off. He said “that isn’t where you would ever shoot to kill one and even a bullet will bounce off that dense area of the head”. We regrouped and set out for a different area but still in the back of my mind I was thinking, CAN I actually penetrate an alligators hide with my arrow? Maybe I am not pulling enough weight?” We spotted a gator quite a ways off across a lake sunning itself on shore. We hiked out around the end of the lake which took about 20 minutes, careful not to get winded, we came down from above it. This time Jayme stayed back up on the hill, her nerves were shot from 3 days of continuous close calls with gators and I wanted to be sure she was having fun on the hunt! She videoed my stalk down the hill. Glen and I snuck in to about 20 yards and the gator must have heard us in the grass because he spooked and dove into the water. My heart sank; but then he suddenly turned around! I crouched down in the weeds, which were over my head. He was just sitting out about 15 yards away in the water, facing me. Glen was about 5 yards behind me up the bank also crouched down. The gator was looking my direction and seemed to size me up huddled in the grass and decided that I looked like a pretty tasty little snack and he decided to come in for some lunch. I was thrilled that he was coming back to give me another chance. I slowly started to stalk in through the weeks towards the water. Later, Glen told me that he was really impressed with how my instincts took over without him being near me or saying anything, I just started stalking down the bank alone, staying low. He said as he watched me he imagined that I had inherited alot of my fathers natural knack for hunting. My father is a very experienced hunter but is now too ill to hunt anymore, so this comment really gave me a sense of pride. There is no greater compliment than to be compared to him.

The gator continued to come straight at me, but I felt really calm, everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion to me. As he climbed up on the bank and started to slither out toward me, I could see the look in his eyes so well. He was angry and aggressive and there was no doubt that he was planning to make a meal of me. This was the break that I needed to get close to a gator! When he closed the gap and got to 6 yards in front of me I raised up and drew and shot, no bounce off this time! The broadhead went all the way through. The gator broadheads are barbed so they won’t come back out and he spun and dove back into the water where he felt safe, as they do when shot on land. My arrow was stuck all the way through him and was attached with a cord to the reel on my bow. The line deployed from the reel as it should, but the buoy was supposed to pop off the end to float behind the gator so we could go find him but it jammed. Now I had a cord attached to my bow from a fleeing gator and my hand got caught in my wrist sling – due to the heavy tension on the attached line. As the gator swam away, it drug me down to the waters edge at a rapid pace. I could not get my hand out. I was stumbling along thinking, “oh my god I’m going in the water with a wounded alligator!” I yelled out, “Im stuck!” and Glen ran after me, grabbed the bow and pulled to relieve enough tension to get my hand out and then it pulled him out into the water up to his knees before he finally just broke the reel off the bow and tossed it into the water. The buoy floated out to the middle of the lake. Glen walked back up to where I was and we looked at each other and started to laugh, that nervous happy laugh that you do after you have just avoided a disaster. Jayme came down from the hill above us and videoed us as we hugged and I jumped around so thrilled that I had just taken my bucket list animal with a bow at 6 yards! We went and got the airboat on the trailer and went out to retrieve my gator from the middle of the lake. He measured an amazing 10.5 foot Much bigger than I had ever hoped for! I couldn’t be more thrilled with the whole experience. I feel proud that I wanted to do it the “hard” way, that I stuck to my goals and that I harvested an incredible Alligator, spot and stalk.

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Spotting and Stalking with Meghan Simpson

By Meghan Simpson

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Fingers and toes tend to freeze easily during deer season in Alberta. There’s usually a foot of snow by mid November and temperatures are around -20 Celsius. This year was a bit different. I have been hunting whitetails by Edmonton Alberta in mostly tree stands, and I have a trail camera set up and have seen some small bucks and lots of does. This tends to be a good sign, because where there are does there will be bucks close behind! We have only a few inches of snow on the ground and it has been pleasantly warm for sitting in the stand until the sun goes down. This kind of weather makes it hard to get a good stalk on crunchy leaves so my stand is pretty handy.

Besides the whitetail hunting I’m extremely excited because this year I drew a Mule deer tag in southern Alberta! I have put in a specific zone for over five years now and it’s finally my turn to kill a big buck! I designated my dad to be my super guide, which is usually my first choice. We have been on many hunts together and have been very successful as a team. The drive to my hunting zone is four hours from where I live, and we stayed at a bed and breakfast where the cook made homemade meals hot and ready when you want them. This is a bonus, because I was able to get an extra bit of shut eye! It was the end of November and the forecast for the weekend was -30 and close to 30 inches of snow. I decided I had one good day of hunting and since the hunting days are Wednesday to Saturday so I better make it worth while! We left camp around 7am on Wednesday morning , the sun was coming up later and later, so that was the perfect time to head out. After seeing around twenty bucks and over fifty does in eight hours I set my eyes on one specific old boy. He seemed to be quite the stud, since he had four does bedded around him. He was laying on a rock pile like a sheep. After making a game plan we decided to sneak up a coulee and make a stalk. One chest shot later I had my big mule deer! I was lucky enough to get a shot at this great buck the first day, because that night it started to snow and didn’t quit for three days! Lots of hunters were out hunting and hadn’t shot their bucks before the storm, I guess they just didn’t know what a good stalk was!

Britney Starr Promoted to Prois Pro Staff!

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Please join us in congratulating Britney Starr on her promotion from a Field Staff position to our highest honor of a Pro-Staff position Britney has been a staff member for years and has done a fantastic job of supporting and promoting Prois as well as becoming a well know figure in the hunting industry and incredible mentor and promoter of female hunters.

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Owner of Starr & Bodill African Safaris, Britney Starr is a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Michigan University, and when she’s not helping her clients achieve their dream of hunting in Africa, she enjoys freelance writing about her time in the woods. A member of numerous outdoor based organizations, and founder of the Women’s Outdoor & Shooting Industry Dinner, Britney truly has an affinity for all things hunting, and strives to connect with and empower other women who share her passion, or are interested in becoming more involved in the outdoors and shooting sports.

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.

High Plains Brush Pants Review

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By Azura Dee Gaige

Having a pair of hunting pants that are light weight but also able to deal with burs and stickers is a great

combination. The pants are designed to drape over your boots so it more convenient than having to pick

out stickers in your socks. I would recommend anyone who’s hunting in Eastern Oregon and

Washington, around a lot of sagebrush and hitchhiker stickers, these pants will make the hunting

experience more desirable.

Thank you Prois as Always, Azura Dee Gaige

Deaux Girls Duck Hunting

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By Angie Adams Kokes

As a lifelong hunter and fisherman there is little I love more than to be outside doing what I love. That is unless I get the opportunity to introduce another person to one of my many passions! This past week I was blessed once again to be able to open our home and host Tina Kaine, owner of Deaux Girls for a few days of fun in Nebraska.Tina is an avid bow hunter and stopped through on her way north to hunt whitetails. She expressed she had never hunted with a gun so we made a plan to get her on some ducks. Knowing we were probably a little early for some really great duck hunting we made the best of the situation, which as a hunter is exactly what we have to do. I contacted a friend who was gracious enough to take us to one of his locations to hunt. Trying to “get on” some ducks when they aren’t flying proved a bit of a challenge and left us hunting from layout blinds. When a hunt is challenging for a first timer I always get a bit nervous that they will get discouraged. As we tromped through bogs, swamp, and were continually smacked in the face with willows carrying layout blinds, guns and 70 pounds of decoys my nerves were on high alert that Tina may be discouraged already. While setting the blinds up and getting the decoys out Tina commented, “wow, duck hunting is a lot of work”.

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Thankfully though with a smile on her face. While being nervous about discouraging someone I also feel it is very important that they are part of the entire experience.With everything ready to go, “magic hour” hit! I was pleasantly shocked at the number of ducks flying. While the ducks were not terribly willing to decoy Tina got to experience the fly overs, turn arounds, come backs and the pitter patter of wings that make a duck hunters heart flutter! We were able to take a Blue Wing Teal, Gadwall and Wood Duck. Nothing close to our limit but the memories made exceeded their limit for the day I’m sure, when as we finished Tina called her husband and informed him they would need to go shopping for duck hunting gear. Gear that for starters will include the Prois Pro-Edition Pants, Vest and Jacket I was sporting that kept me toasty warm and dry and the Real Tree Max Camo was perfect for blending in with my blind along the river bank.

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As a hunter it’s hard to imagine getting anymore excited than when you make the shot. But I encourage everyone to take a “new” hunter out and I promise you will get that rush times a billion when they make a great shot and their face lights up with pride and excitement. That my friends is true joy, passing it on! #ProisWasThere

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!!!

Barnes Twins 3-Gunning it up!

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This past weekend concluded our three gun competitions for the summer with 4 weeks of competitions in a row. We have learned a lot about the sport of 3 gun in the past month (mostly through trial & error during matches) that will help us to improve in the future. We started out at the JP Rocky Mountain 3 gun in New Mexico (4th & 5th Tactical Lady, 43rd & 52nd Overal Tactical), then traveled to Bend, Oregon for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 gun, then it was on to the Brownells Rockcastle 3 gun ProAm in Kentucky (6th & 8th Lady, 126 & 131 Overal) and finally the Noveske Area 2 Championships in Byers, CO (4th & 5th Tac Lady, 32nd & 39th Tactical Overal). These were our 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th major 3 gun matches and we saw huge gains with each match. At each match we improved our best stages ranking higher and higher towards the top of the pack and had more consistent stages as well as having fewer bad stages. We now have a week to train for the Trijocon World Shooting Championships that will be held in West Virginia. This fall we’ll head to the 3 Gun Nation Southwest Regional Championships in Texas in October followed by the Lady 3 gun match in Georgia at the end of October. We are confident that with some more training this fall we can continue to make huge gains in 3 gun.

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We also have a packed schedule of courses for the T.O.P Shooting Institute this fall and into the winter. We just finished 2 classes for competitive shooters in Colorado & Kentucky that were a huge success. This fall we have a slew of competitive shooting courses around Colorado, Utah, & New Mexico. We’ll also be starting to work with a bunch of military units out of Fort Carson, CO as well as FBI from California and special forces units from Georgia who will be coming to work with us in Durango.

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How Road Kill Rabbit Stew Led to My Western Elk Hunt Honeymoon…by 2013 Prois Award Finalist Sheri Coker

How Road Kill Rabbit Stew Led to My Western Elk Hunt Honeymoon…

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My first, but certainly not my last Western hunting adventure had humble beginnings. I grew up hunting and fishing the hills of Arkansas.  As a child my dad stuck me on deer stands and put fishing rods in my hands until the outdoor passion became engrained in my weird, multifaceted personality.  I was told that every Southern woman worth her salt should be able to accurately shoot any weapon she was handed, skin any animal without a flinch, and back a boat on a dime.  I’m worth my salt. My undergraduate degree was in biology, but my master’s in dance, yes DANCE, so even today, I continue to priss through the woods, daintily leaping over logs and gingerly performing dance steps over the slippery rocks of rushing creeks to commandeer my game.

My 90 year old Grandma Hill would have target practice with a paper plate stuck in the top of an old cedar tree so that “When I want rabbit stew, I can just go out and get one!”  My boyfriend accidentally ran over a swamp rabbit one rainy night.  If you aren’t familiar with swamp rabbits, then let me tell you those rascals are like a cottontail on steroids!  The poor thing was expired but intact, so I suggested he pitch it in the back of his truck.  Once home, I proceeded to make the best road kill stew out of that rabbit that he had ever put in his sweet little mouth! After dating for over two years, THIS was the push over the top for the immediate marriage proposal.  Really?  If I’d known that was all it took, I might have frequented the back roads in search of those hippity hoppity creatures myself, screeching through the darkness, weaving to and fro at speeds not unlike Dale Earnheardt!  At any rate, in two months we were wed and bear hunting and halibut fishing on Prince William Sound, Alaska.  But that is a story for another day!

The second portion of our honeymoon, we decided, would be that elk hunt we had both dreamed of for years.  We planned.  We schemed.  We trained.  We contacted a good friend from Alaska who is wise in the “Elkin Way.”  He flew to Utah, where we drove 22 hours to meet him, continuing on to a section of public land in the backcountry of Idaho.  Folks, Idaho is a long way from Arkansas!  We loaded our supplies and headed up, up, and up to our chosen base camp location, from which we would hike twice daily for eleven days of hard, concentrated hunting.  We climbed about 2000 vertical feet per day, and at 5′ 2″ and about 115, I still lost 12 pounds.  Ladies, I discovered that elk hunting is a great way for a woman to stay in those “skinny jeans!”

On our first hunt, we excitedly hiked down to a canyon that cornered up to a section of private land.  Pointed out to us was the approximate whereabouts of an elusive fence line, beyond which we were not allowed to shoot an elk.  That very first crisp, cold morning, a group of handsome bulls came bounding out of the golden glow of aspens at the bottom of that canyon, and I thought my rifle would shake right out of my hands!  They put on a tremendous show, unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. However, they were at a distance and quite obviously on private land, so I raised up to get a better look.  When I did, I happened to see movement below, catching 13 cows waltzing down a trail right under me.  Not legal!  Oh well.  But what a first hunt!

Later that morning, out from the trees on the ridge across from us, 400 yards away, meandered a little spike bull.  I watched him.  I wondered.  I realized I had forgotten to discuss the efficacy of shooting a spike.  In whitetail hunting, where I come from, you get in trouble back at camp for shooting a spike and I did NOT want to be the one on the hot seat!  I’m a goody two shoes girl who implicitly follows the unspoken rules of the hunt!  So, I crunched on potato chips and crispy apples and made enough racket that I’m surprised it didn’t echo across the canyon and send that little spike into a run for his life.  I decided then and there that I was really gonna like elk hunting if I could consume enormous amounts of loud food while doing so.  I like to eat.  A lot.  At home, I would have sat motionless and starving, for fear the smell, noise or movement would’ve scared away my prey.  In the end, I chose not to take the spike, for fear of retribution back at the base camp.  Turns out I was wrong and they would’ve been thrilled for me to have harvested the meat.  Well, darn the luck.

My husband and I would be the first to leave camp and the last to return each day, but still no elk to haul back.  We continued to see elk, but all cows or bulls on private land.  Or were they?  Exactly where WAS that fence line?  I was looking pretty rough by the 10th day without washing my hair and my fourth day wearing the same ratty tee shirt.  It didn’t help my femininity that our host’s girlfriend was driven up to camp wearing her perfectly matching hi tech outdoor garb with her perfectly styled hair blowing in the wind, flashing her blindingly white teeth, while batting her doe-like false eyelashes and exclaiming, “Oh Baby, isn’t this fun?  It’s like we are really camping or something!”  I thought, “Oooooh, yes, “Baby,” it is SOMETHING alright.”  Grrrr.  It made me even more determined to get my elk!

We were now on the next to last day with my chances of getting an elk slipping away. I was crouched stiffly in my spot, freezing my butt off at the crack of a nippy dawn and finally decided to warm up with a little jig across the ridge to check out that fence line position once and for all.  I eventually figured out that elk are not like whitetails, but are nomadic, and I could investigate the fence line without being too awfully concerned about never seeing an elk there again.  I know.  “Duh!” all you Western hunters are saying.

As I crept down the fence line from the top of the ridge, I heard a cow call, and as I watched in amazement, I saw a magnificent bull step out from behind a tall spruce in the distance.  My heart was POUNDING.  I put my crosshairs on him but I couldn’t pull the trigger.  I didn’t know where he was in relation to that fence line marking private ground.  I frantically scoured the hillside with my binoculars, looking for that tiny strand of barbed wire.  Hurriedly, I would glance back to my elk.  He was just leisurely nibbling at leaves, giving me one broadside shot opportunity after another.  Having this beautiful creature in my crosshairs again and again for 10-15 seconds at a time and not being able to pull the trigger for fear of violating private ground was killing me.  I watched, tears rolling down my face as he disappeared over the next ridge.  I followed that lone barbed wire strand to find he had been on my side of the fence for a long while.  I kneeled down and sobbed.

He was the last elk I saw on my first Western hunt.  Next year, the first day, I’m marking that fence with bright, neon ribbon tied in great big bows that will glow in the light and flap in the wind!  I’m considering battery powered blinking lights.  The first legal elk that is dumb enough to step into my sites will be headed for my freezer.  I will even pack an extra clean hat in case “Baby” comes up from civilization to spend day 10 with us.  Oooooh yes.  I am now addicted to the Western hunt.

The Off Season

By Megan DeHaan

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For some, we live by seasons, as a rancher I feel like my life revolves around this idea. There’s calving season, haying season, hunting season, feeding season, repeat. Everything else depends on the weather, the cows, the kids, the old man…. So, for my sanity I have a few “musts” to fill in the blanks. Trail running is one of them. In one way it’s my alone time. The time I get during hunting season that I dearly love, to be at one with nature and my thoughts. So in the “off season” I go out. The other reason is simply because if I don’t, then all winter I just mope around feeling sorry for myself wishing it was fall and I was hunting. Yes I run in the winter, yes it gets cold, no, it doesn’t bother me, yes, I know, I’m that weird person who runs in the snow and rain and thoroughly enjoys it! The alternative would be letting old man winter control you and waste all that time you took to get into shape for hunting season and avoid your skinny jeans because you know they wont fit.

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Some people really just don’t enjoy running I’ve been told. Well I didn’t either at one time. I decided one day I was going to. So I went running. And I hated it. So I tried again, still hated it. Until one day I realized, maybe I should try out actual running attire? So I went out and bought new running shoes from an actual running store. Holy moly did that make a difference! It’s the same thing as trying to just wear your husbands hunting clothing. You could, but have fun with that….most likely they won’t fit, and it will be just like trying to trail run in jeans and boots. So naturally I started seeking out running clothes. Let me be clear, not all running clothes are created equal. Just because they say “running shorts” does not mean they aren’t going to hike up your butt crack and expose your underside. Also “technical” doesn’t even really mean its going to work as well as you think. Some times it means “technically we call these shorts technical, but really there just technically/kinda running shorts”. You have to pick and choose. I found that my hunting clothing was working better than some of my running gear. Mainly because almost all my hunting gear is Prois, and it’s all made specifically for us women who demand performance. So eventually I became “that gal who’s always in camo at races”. Prois carries an “ultra hoodie” and it’s ultra wonderful. I wear it all winter, and for warm-up and for early races. They also have the ultra short sleeve that works great as well for any mid temperature days. I almost always run with a visor and it just so happens, Prois carries my favorite. Last but not least they carry the turas sleeveless shirt that works great for hot days. This helps me out a lot because my hunting wardrobe and gear gets its own room in our house, so my running gear could save some room by being multi purpose, and what husband doesn’t like saving money on his wife’s habits?

Dehaan3

Turns out road running can get pretty boring after awhile and is why I turned to trail running among many other reasons. My first race was the Bridger Ridge Run in Bozeman, MT. It’s rated one of the top ten bucket list races by Trail Runners Magazine and its also rated one of the hardest races in the country. Once I realized I was capable of completing such a race without dying, my motivation went from simply staying in shape for hunting season, to an obsession with the sport. I’ve completed several trail races in the past years and my list keeps getting longer of new ones I’d like to try. If you have the right gear, the will, and shear determination, anything is possible. If your stuck and need some motivation, or a new direction with your fitness, or simply need to get your butt in gear because you drew a great tag this hunting season and it requires a LOT of physically demanding terrain. Then start trail running! Heck, even look me up and I can help you get started. Call the Prois gals, they will hook you up with some great gear for running and hunting. Most importantly, find something that you enjoy in the off season to keep you busy, and in shape! That way when hunting season comes around and that trigger finger gets unbearable, you know your in shape and ready at any moment!