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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Britney Starr Promoted to Prois Pro Staff!

Britney Starr

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

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.

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?

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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!

 

Prois Was There!

By Christy Turner

Stacy, Jon, and Maison Sissney from His & Hers Outdoors came down to Texas for a weekend visit.  Callie and Cassie’s Cousin Sienna, is down visiting also from Colorado.  I took them all to our favorite “Honey Hole” fishing spot where Sienna caught her very first fish!!! A great Bass she reeled in too!  We had some tough luck on our hog hunting this weekend but I was able to lay one down last night finally! #Proiswasthere

Great times with great friends and family this weekend!

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 !

 

 

Fishin’ to Hunt

What does a huntress do when summer hits and the hunting season has come to an end?

Well, we dream about hunting, hope and pray for great tags, train to hunt, study new

hunting areas, buy new hunting gear, target shoot, and…we FISH!!!!

My husband, Joe and I have a favorite adventure we do in the off season. I call it “Fishin’

to Hunt!” During the summer months, we take a few weekend backcountry fishing

trips. We backpack into various high alpine lakes to help train for the upcoming hunting

season. Joe and I do a lot of backcountry hunting trips for 7-10 days at a time, so these

“mini” trips are perfect practice and training for the hunting season. This particular

weekend trip we invited Joe’s parents along for fun. Joe’s dad, Ray is one of our hunting

partners, so it’s great training for him too.

 

With backpacks fully loaded, hiking sticks in hand, and fishing gear at the ready, we

trek into the mountains. We usually hike about 6-8 miles roundtrip with 2-3,000 foot

elevation gains. These hikes help us strengthen our lungs, legs, backs, and stabilizers,

while we work on our balance rock hopping around the fishing holes. It’s a perfect

backcountry gym to help us stay fit and strong enough to pack out a deer or elk during the

One of the greatest benefits to these backcountry fishing trips is to try out any new gear

we have purchased. Each year we evaluate our gear and check to see what items need

to be replaced. The first items I check are in my first aid/emergency kit. It’s very rare

that you will need any of these supplies, but they should always be up to date. I replace

any expired medications such as Benadryl, Aspirin, Imodium, etc. I make sure all of my

Band-Aids and blister treatments are fresh. It’s also a good time to replace batteries in

headlamps, flashlights, and GPS. I also thoroughly check my fire making kit, emergency

bag, and raingear, along with any other essentials. One item I never leave home without

is a small roll of the always essential… Duct Tape! I couple years ago on a late Nevada

elk hunt I had a boot start to separate from the sole. I noticed it half way up a 2,000

foot climb to try and cut off my quarry. Snow was packed into the opening and my foot

was starting to freeze. We cleaned the seam, dried it with the heat from a Jet Boil, and

applied the duct tape while the boot was still hot. This gave a great bond that held while I

continued to hunt for the week.

On this fishing trip some of the gear we tried out was a new gravity water filtration

system, Joe had a new bedroll, and I had a new pair of boots. Each of these items

performed flawlessly, so this trip gave us complete confidence in these items going into

the hunting season. It’s always a good idea to do a practice run at home on your big ticket

items. Check all components on new gear, like tents, stoves, and water purifiers as well.

You will want to know how to use them before you venture into the backcountry. How

terrible would it be to pack in 5 miles and try to set up your new tent with only 1 pole,

when there should be 2! Being prepared is essential!

Food is always a big decision on backpack trips. We use these short trips to try out

different dehydrated backpack meals. There is nothing worse than being completely

exhausted after a long day of hunting, to come back to camp and have to choke down a

meal that you “thought” you might like. Trying new flavors helps us add variety to our

menu, so we can stay fueled up for the hunt. It’s also a good time to estimate your daily

food consumption. Figure out your game plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

You want just enough food to last your trip, so you can come out food light and game heavy.

Now of course the best part of these training trips is the fishing! We have a few different

stunning alpine lakes that we love to camp and fish at. The fishing is always amazing.

After a peaceful night sleep on the mountain, we wake up to the sound of nature’s alarm

clock and we’re embraced by the beauty of the backcountry at first light. We brew some

fresh coffee/cocoa (just add water), eat breakfast, and decide which lake to hike to next.

Each year we always seem to end up with the same wonderful experience. As we near

our destination, we climb through the last pine trees and glimpse the first rays of morning

light dancing across the water. We are mesmerized by the awe inspiring view that

unfolds! We reach the waters edge and quickly set up our rigs and throw out our lines. As

I wait to see a tug on my line, I soak up the surroundings. This year the brilliant blue lake

we are at is still mostly covered in thick ice. The sun illuminates the rocky cliff spires,

and the sound of water trickling from melting snow and ice cracking across the lake fills

the morning air. As I lay back on the rocks, I know life doesn’t get much better than this.

And then it does. I see the distinct tug on my line and I yell, “Fish On!”

After an awesome day of fishing, including a double hook up with Joe, we head back

to camp with dinner. Our five star meals consisted of fresh brook trout cooked over the

campfire and dehydrated pasta primavera on the side. Simply perfect!

The next day, we topped off our training trip with fishing a creek on our way back down

the mountain. We ended up doing a little catch and release with Brook, Brown, Golden,

and Rainbow trout! These fish are small, but oh so colorful! Remember these trips are

not just about training. They are about being in nature, recharging your batteries, and

enjoying the great outdoors. Besides you get to yell “Fish On”, even if it’s a shaker!

These training trips are always some of my fondest memories of the “hunting” season, so

get on out there and enjoy!