by Gretchen Steele

Chances are if you are reading this you already understand the importance of “passing it on” and taking youngsters afield and waterfowl hunting. There are multiple reasons to pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting. In this era of electronic and technological bombardment, it becomes even more important to help connect children to the land and help build a good conservation ethic. Teaching the young ones about waterfowl hunting also makes for increased family bonding time, develops life skills such as responsibility, good sportsmanship, self – discipline, respect, and contributes positively to both physical and mental health.

However, taking the wee ones to the duck blind or goose pit does require a little planning on your part as an adult in order to ensure a successful time in the field. If that time in the field is not fun, or worse yet if it’s miserable, it’s hard to retain those young folks as future conservationists and hunters.

Here are some ways to help insure that your youngster has an enjoyable and productive time in the field this waterfowl season.


GRETCHENWATERFOWLIt goes without saying, but safety should be the number one concern anytime you head outdoors with child. These first experiences will lay the ground work for their safety actions later in life. If they are taught both via instruction and by example from the get go good hunting and outdoor safety practices, it will become ingrained and instinctive them as they grow into adulthood.

Look for youth wingshooting clinics, insure their attendance at a hunter safety course, repeat over and over basic gun, boat, water, and weather safety. Explain the why of safety rules, the reason we need to wear hearing protection and life jackets. Set an example by always displaying the best safety practices when afield.


Since most states and public land waterfowl areas have a designated youth season, as well as special youth hunts, take advantage of those opportunities. Conservation organizations such as Delta Waterfowl also have specially designated “First Hunt” waterfowl hunts that can take much of the work out of the hunting trip for you and are geared especially towards a young audience with additional activities that turn a hunting trip into an event.



Education should start well before your youngster ever steps into the duck blind. Take your youngster scouting with you, and use this as an opportunity to teach waterfowl identification skills. Invite your youngster to sit down with you when preparing or ordering any permits, licenses, windshield cards etc. It’s important for young ones to learn the entire process, from buying your duck stamp and shells to having that delicious duck breast for supper. This goes for all aspects of the hunt, everything from ethics and safety, to the waterfowl, to the habitat. Don’t be rigid in your instruction, but rather let the youngsters innate curigretchen_steele_youth_waterfowl_hunting-7573osity lead to the areas they want to learn. Encourage them to be curious, and ask all the questions they want. Help them research youth friendly facts by visiting websites directed towards young folks and waterfowl and hunting in general. This will help build their anticipation level for the actual trip afield.


Young hunters don’t need to be outfitted in the best high tech hunting attire that money can buy, but they DO have to be comfortable, warm and dry. Be sure that their outdoor gear fits appropriately and isn’t too big, too floppy, and causing issues with walking or shooting. Just like with adults, it’s hard to stay motivated and enjoy the time afield when your hands and feet hurt from the cold. Keeping the young ones warm and dry will keep them from being miserable and not wanting to join you the next trip to the duck blind. Pack extra hand and foot warmers or a small heater. Ask them frequently how they are doing. If you just assume that they are fine, and wait until you hear “I’m cold…I want to go home” you are already in trouble, since likely it will take a little time to pack up decoys, gear, and hike back to the vehicle – rendering them past cold and flat out miserable by the time they are getting warm in the clubhouse or truck.


Youngsters in a duck blind can easily eat their weight in snacks. They are ALWAYS hungry. First, think about what kinds of snacks to take. For example, if they eat half a dozen candy bars and guzzle three bottles Mountain Dew you are will have a wired for sound can’t sit still wiggling nightmare on your hands. Instead opt for smarter snacks like peanut butter and crackers, pretzels, jerky, or dried fruit and some juice boxes. Second, think about the packaging. The snapping and crackling of little fingers ripping through individually packaged snacks can sound like a jet airplane when trying to be still in the blind. Not to mention all those wrappers that have to be gathered up and hauled out. Consider packing in zipper top plastic bags for a little more ease in opening with gloved hands and for a little quieter snacking experience.


There is no magical age for when a youth should take their first birds. Certainly, practice, experience, training, and adequate supervision are all very important aspects of a first harvest; but just being properly educated in the use of firearms and firearms safety, and demonstrating the ability to reliably use a firearm is only one aspect. The youngster must be mentally ready also. If a young hunter is pushed too hard before they are really ready it can ruin the experience, and may turn them away from hunting all together. Assure the young person in blind that there are no expectations, and when they feel ready to take the shot and down the bird – you will do all you can to help them be successful. ON THEIR TERMS. There is a highly likely chance that if a child is forced to shoot before they truly feel ready the likelihood of a bad shot and crippled game is high. An event like that can completely turn them away from hunting. Praise them for what they do shoot. Even if it is a lowly coot – for that young hunter it is prize and treat it as such. Make every success they have an opportunity for positive feedback and praise.

It’s perfectly normal for children to feel sad and possibly even cry after a harvest. Children aren’t always as comfortable with death and dying animals as we assume they might be. Allow them to feel a little sad, allow them to have a few tears if need be. Negating their feelings, belittling them, telling them to “man up” etc. may make them feel they are unworthy to hunt. Instead, use this opportunity to talk about putting food on the table, humane killing, why we respect what we kill, explain the importance of keeping populations in check. Acknowledge and accept their feelings and demonstrate the positive parts of hunting.


It’s hard to tolerate a bored, wiggly, whiny, child when you are waiting for birds, but have realistic expectations and keep the experience positive. Use this time to talk about the other wildlife and birds in the habitat around you, pack some age appropriate field guides and books about wildlife, nature and hunting. Use your smartphone and some the great apps for hunting, bird id, bird sounds, tracking etc. to spice things up a little. A deck of cards can also come in handy as well! Small digital cameras are an inexpensive way to also keep the young ones entertained. Appoint them “official photographer “status and encourage them to capture moments that can later be used on a snow day to make a scrapbook about their hunting trips.


Most of all, stay positive and remember that the time in the blind a young child is able to tolerate can be relatively short. Be prepared to call the hunt earlier than normal. Play up all of the positive aspects, all of the things in addition to killing birds that make waterfowl hunting such an enjoyable experience, and you will go far in building a lifetime love of waterfowl hunting and conservation in your young companion.



ELK STIR FRY: Recipe by Mia Enstrom

Living in rural Colorado hunting season is a BIG time of the year. Not only is it my favorite time of the year for going out and making memories in the woods, but its also my major grocery shopping for the year. No meat wrapped in plastic in my household all my meat is organic mountain fed elk, deer, bear, pronghorn, or sometimes even mountain lion. Yes, I said mountain lion. Anyways elk is what I have a majority of every year and I love cooking with it. I believe elk is some of the best tasting meat on the planet. No joke…. this stuff is seriously THAT good! Elk stir fry is a different direction to take this lean meat, but it is a delicious direction!
Elk Stir Fry
2 Pounds elk meat (I use back strap, shoulder, or hind quarter steak meat)
1 Purple onion
2 Red bell peppers
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons montreal steak seasoning
1 Cup stir fry sauce ( I use Kikkoman brand)
Slice your onion, bell peppers and in a pan caramelize in butter over medium high heat. Slice your meat in skinny strips and season with steak seasoning. Once onions and peppers are caramelized transfer them to a plate and cook your sliced meat in pan over medium high heat until desired temperature. Once meat is cooked pour onion/pepper mixture back over meat and mix together in pan over medium heat. Once mixed pour over your stir fry sauce and stir until blended. Serve over rice.
I have used a variety of veggies in this recipe as well. So whatever you desire throw it in with your peppers and onions when caramelizing! Add more sauce if you wish for more. Can be served over Udon noodles, too!
-Mia Enstrom

Learning how to “Gear Up” for Hunting

So you’ve decided you’d like to try out hunting. There are a few things you’ll need to do before you “gear up” and get out in the woods. Your journey should begin prior to hunting season. Most states require that you take a hunter education course. This will not only familiarize you with the gun aspect, but the game in your area. Another great outlet for women who would like to learn to hunt is Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW). They offer workshops for women to help them learn more about the outdoors, which they say “means becoming more competent, more confident, and more aware.” “BOW” has been around since 1991, and specializes in helping female beginners learn outdoor skills. All equipment needed is provided; a woman needs only the desire to learn and she can have fun doing it!


The basic items needed to hunt are a hunting license, animal tags, camo, a rifle
with a scope, ammunition and land.

Check your local regulations to make sure your firearms selection is legal for the game you’ve selected.

If your new to hunting, purchasing your gear can be confusing and costly. Once you decide what game you’ll be hunting there is only place I will recommend for womens hunting apparel. Hunting apparel is something that you don’t want to cut corners on. Prois Hunting & Field Apparel is the best on the market for women in my humble opinion. If you like to stay warm and dry, and actually have apparel that fits, it’s the place to purchase from. My favorite mid-weight pants, “The Generation X Series” are made with a windstopping and waterproof fabric. They sit at your natural waist and have ample room through hips and thighs. Made with boot zips for convenience and elastic drawstring with cord stop to draw pants close to boot. This reduces infiltration of debris and dampness into the boot. You will be writing “Thank You” letters to Prois after donning these on a hunt. Wearing these feel like putting on a warm micro-fleece lined pillow pant. Can you say, Ahhhh? The back pockets have pillowtop closures to keep contents in place. Their deep cargo pockets (with magnetic closures for ease of access) ensure enhanced silence. You have plenty of room to bring along all your essentials.  My favorite versatile shirt, “Prois’s Ultra Backcountry Shirt” wicks moisture away from the skin, keeping you cool when it is hot and warm when it is cool. It’s neck zipper is added to allow venting in warm weather. The convenient 3 compartment lumbar pocket system is perfect for holding calls, gloves, hand warmers and other hunting necessitites. There’s room to bring along plenty of quiet snacks or handheld devices to play for downtime.

Before you run out and purchase a rifle and scope there are few things to consider. You want a rifle that fits you properly and a scope that will perform. If you come to love hunting, you are sure to expand your hunting to other game. Purchasing a rifle and scope that you can use for any game in your area is ideal. I personally hunt with a Savage 7mm 08. With my rifle I can hunt any game in my area. Your rifle is something that will have to fit your body type and chosen game. Ranges often have rifles you can shoot to try out.


Once you purchased your rifle you’ll need a scope. Finding the best quality scope for the best price is essential. I use a Vortex Diamondback HP 3-12 × 42 Scope. I highly recommend Vortex scopes. Not only are they affordable they have a vip warranty. Its a Lifetime, Unlimited, Fully Transferable, Unconditional warranty. Vortex will repair or replace the product (at no charge) in the event it becomes damaged or defectiveThe Diamondback HP(High Performance) riflescope offers a full-on array of features that you as a hunter will love. The Diamondback has a Dead-Hold BDC reticle that helps eliminate guesswork on hold-over and windage corrections. XD extra-low dispersion glass increases resolution and color fidelity while XR fully multi-coated lenses maximize every minute of shooting light. When you learn about the golden hour, being able to see through your scope in this last light is mandatory. The image is bright and crisp even at extended ranges with this scope. The scopes fogproof performance with it being waterproof will have you thanking Vortex. Once you purchase your scope, you’ll need to sight in your scope to your rifle. Once sighted in, I recommend practicing with your rifle on 25yd., 50yd., & 100yd. ranges. This way you can get familiar with your distances. Most importantly don’t get overwhelmed. Be sure to put in scouting your game prior to opening season. Finding those snipes isn’t easy! Hunting is a learning process. It teachs you patience, ethics, sustainability, disipline and appreciation for hard work!

If you enjoy nature, hunting will open your eyes to things you’ve never dreamed you would see. Most importantly get out there and have fun.
Happy Hunting!

Sincerely, my best to you, Tarra Stoddard



Próis® Hunting Apparel has the Gear Women Need for Pursuing Big Game This Season


Hunting season is once again upon us, and hunters everywhere are preparing to battle the elements in pursuit of North American Big Game across the continent. Whatever your target may be, go into the field with confidence and poise under the protection of Próis Hunting Apparel. Heavy north winds, snow, or rain- none of these stand a chance against the most innovative hunting gear available for women. Take a closer look at the company’s cutting-edge line of women’s outdoor apparel.

Let’s start by discussing one of the company’s most popular garments, the Generation X Jacket. Constructed of Próis’ signature water resistant and wind stopping nylon tricot fabric, the Gen-X is the ultimate in functionality. It features scapular pockets located between the shoulder blades to house activated hand warmers and a deep-set lumbar pocket across the back to hold soft goods or act as a vent. Deep hand pockets and an additional zippered arm pocket keep valuables close-by should you need them in a pinch. Extended hooding adds additional warmth and blockage from the wind. And, as always, the zippers feature snap down sliders for added silence.

A popular pairing for the Gen-X jacket are the similarly named Generation-X pants. Put these two items together and you will be ready for anything. Wind stopping and water resistant fabric keeps the hunter protected from unpredictable weather. Fleece lining along the inner pant provides extra warmth and comfort. The Gen-X pants feature front, back, and cargo pockets which all snap or zip closed in order to keep contents in place. For the hunter who likes to layer, these pants have built in boot zips to ease donning and an elastic drawstring to keep debris and moisture out of the boot.

The Generation-X Jacket and Pants are both available in the following patterns: Realtree AP HD®, Advantage Max-1 HD®, and Mothwing Mountain Mimicry. They come in sizes XS-XXL.

For a complete head to toe outfit, Próis staff recommends Incredisocks and a pair of Zamberlan boots. Made from bamboo charcoal, the sleek designs of the Incredisocks only confirm Incrediwear’s commitment to perfection. This recipe ensures a perfect match for the hunting lifestyle. Keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm, Incredisocks performance unequivocally lives up to the promise of excellence. Invest in a pair of Zamberlan Women’s hunting boots and you will have the perfect sock and boot combination for the ultimate in silence and comfort while you hunt. Constructed with a supported instep, narrow heel, and high arch, these boots were made specifically with the female foot in mind.

Get all of these items and more at or call (970) 641-3355 to receive additional advice from the staff on recommended sizing and camo patterns.

Bacon Wrapped Duck Stuffed with Jalapenos & Cream Cheese

Check out this great recipe by Prois staffer, Melissa Lindsay!



4 duck breasts

3/4 package of bacon

3 large jalapenos

1/2 package of cream cheese

Cajun spice



Take a large baking sheet and cover in tinfoil. Set oven to broil at 350. Cut the duck breasts into strips & coat in Cajun spice. Cut the jalapenos into strips. Cut the cream cheese into strips. Cut the bacon strips in half. Take a strip of duck, jalapeno and cream cheese together and wrap in the 1/2 slice of bacon & place on baking sheet. When finished, place in oven for 25 minutes approximately. Take them out and drain the grease, flip them over and put back on oven for another 10 minutes approximately (until the bacon is lightly browned).

bacon wrapped duck 3bacon wrapped duck 2
Let cool & enjoy!

bacon wrapped duck 1

My Top Ten Backcountry Tips by Nancy Rodriguez

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

Top 3

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


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

Top 10


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

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

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

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

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


My plan:

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


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

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

Again, another flawless plan….


Or so we’ll see.


Two weeks later….

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

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

This will definitely be an adventure, a difficult one.

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

cowelkIsn’t she cute…


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


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

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


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


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

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



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

Baby Tent

Bottles of milk & baby food

A small toy or two

Extra clothes/layers for the baby


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

-Tracy Barnes