Elephants, Sharks, and Assorted Antelope

Last Saturday (the 12th) was our wedding. Getting past that and into this week (and finally being able to actually do homework for my classes like I’d hoped) was like coming up for air. The last 11-12 weeks have been a whirlwind, to say nothing of the month or so before that.  So I thought I’d spend my morning writing some catch-up material.

So we spent 10 days in South Africa. After a grueling 18 hour flight, plus 6 hours in layovers each way.  We were shuttled around by our PH, Sirk. He drove us all over the place and generally was a babysitter/guide, and he was awesome. He put us onto pretty much all of the animals in our package, and big ones, at that. He set up a day of shark fishing for us with a friend of his, and got us a day of video safari at a beautiful reserve. The only animal out of our original package that we failed to get was a warthog. From what I was told, the weather thwarted us there- it was cool (ranging from low 50s F for a high to a few days in the 60s, almost 70s), and often rainy. Warthogs apparently aren’t out and about in that weather, so I swapped for a different animal, a duiker.

The people were all wonderful, the scenery was stunning, and it was quite an experience to be in a country on a continent I never thought I’d visit. So let there be pictures.

As mentioned, we got all of our animals, and with time to spare.

My blesbok, shot at 235 yds

My blesbok, shot at 235 yds

Duiker, shot at about 150

Duiker, shot at about 150

Matt's impala was quite close, inside 100yds

Matt’s impala was quite close, inside 100yds

The kudu was impressive, ad shot at 450.

The kudu was impressive, and shot at 450.

These rhinos were on the farm where we shot the kudu. We were inside the fence.

These rhinos were on the farm where we shot the kudu. We were inside the fence.

Springbok, shot just under 100yds

Springbok, shot just under 100yds

Me following Sirk after some blesbok. He made a good place to hide behind. He was basically a mountain.

Me following Sirk after some blesbok. He made a good place to hide behind. He was basically a mountain.

Matt's big Blue Wildebeest.

Matt’s big Blue Wildebeest.

Unfortunately, I’m still searching for the external hard drive we loaded all of our pictures onto. Once it turns up, I’ll get some more pictures of the scenery and other things we saw up.

Bear Down

I can’t read the phrase I used for the title without thinking of the Chicago football fight song, but blame that on my roots. I told Matt that he was going to be writing the post about the hunt, since I wasn’t there. But I wanted to at least get the pictures up: he got his bear. Continue reading

Matt’s 200 Yard Shot.

The video is cut and edited. Matt took a 185 yard shot on this deer on Thanksgiving evening. He successfully hit the big artery in the neck, dropping her immediately. We would see another 8 deer this evening. Some of them may have been bucks, but it was too dark to pick out any headgear. We ended up hunting over the gut pile the next day for coyote, but we didn’t see anything.

Deer Camp and Thanksgiving

I finally make my return after a several day absence. We returned from Deer Camp and Thanksgiving late on Saturday night. This will probably be the first of three or so posts on the last weekend of gun season. On the one hand, we had incredible luck- we returned from northeast Wisconsin with two deer strapped to our cargo carrier. On the other hand, we had what I can only call Pech. It’s the German word for bad luck, but it’s also the German word for pitch (pine tar, not the action in baseball). The German word for good luck, Glück, only really has positive connotations, and making the straight antonym of it doesn’t quite reach as far as I’d like. Pech describes our circumstances so much better, both because of the negative connotations, as well as the idea that it just sticks to you and doesn’t come off.  The bad luck enters when I didn’t fill any of my tags or see deer, when Matt backed the truck into a tree, mangling our cargo carrier, and when the scope on my rifle came loose. Oh, and the fact that the week before we arrived, most of Matt’s younger cousins had been running amok all over the hunting land. The roads were rutted all to hell from inexperienced teenagers attempting to drive off road, we found bottle rocket leftovers in front of the cabin, they’d shot two porcupines, and the deer were spooked for miles around.

Short linguistic tangent and rant about Kids These Days over, I’ll sum things up with words before throwing up a huge gallery of photos. The two deer were both Matt’s work. I got video of the first, as we were sitting next to each other on the edge of an unused cow pasture. The video is saving as I type, and I have yet to even upload it to YouTube- it will go up this afternoon, I suspect. It was a great shot, and he was happy to get it out of the way. That one he got on Thanksgiving day, as we headed out from dinner at his grandparents to hunt that pasture down the road. She was a little doe- probably a yearling.

We hunted that same pasture Friday night after helping his dad with some projects, and getting the blower fan in the truck replaced (in other news, the Durango has heat for the first time since we bought it. Hooray!). However, Friday night, his dad and his youngest stepbrother also hunted the pasture. Poor little kid has both inadequate gear and instruction in hunting- it was about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit all day, and he got cold fast. He was shivering audibly, and left his stand with about 35 minutes of light left. His stand was right on the trail the deer came from on Thursday night- we weren’t going to see anything. I doubt anyone told him he has to stay out until damn near full dark.

Saturday morning, we hunted but didn’t see anything. The trail camera we put out over a bait pile the night before picked up images, however, so it was heartening. The deer were getting unspooked after a couple quiet days. Saturday afternoon, we replenished bait piles that were gone Saturday morning, after not having been hit for days. Saturday evening, I didn’t see a thing, in spite of heavy sign and a rub near my stand. I would hear Matt shoot, and that’s when he got his second deer- a much bigger doe we had captured at the same bait pile the night before, and I suspect the one I passed on back in September. She’s a biggun. Lengthy summarization over, let there be photographs.

So, the video should go up this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll have a post about the last evening of gun season down in Madison tomorrow. Black powder rifle season started at sun up today, and goes until this Sunday. We basically get a chance to fill any tags left over from gun season. According to Matt the moon phase today and tomorrow is good for hunting- I may make it out tonight. This weekend we hope to be heading to a kind acquaintance’s out in Richland Center to hunt with our muzzle loaders.

Turtle Shell and Hunt Camp.

First off, Matt finished and shellacked the turtle shell the other day. It looks nicer than it did when it was still on the turtle. I didn’t think it would come out so nice. It was muddy and dull when the turtle was still alive.

GE

 

Second off, we are leaving Wednesday afternoon to go participate in a tradition that’s been a part of Matt’s life for about 18 years now- Thanksgiving hunt camp. I missed hunt camp last year- the job I had that led to me starting this blog hired me right before the holiday, and then required me to work the holiday weekend. That should have been my first sign to quit, but that’s another story. However, I did make it in the Fall of 2011, a couple months after moving up here.

The way it’ll probably go is we’ll drive up, stay the night, hunt on Thursday morning, grab Thanksgiving dinner with Matt’s grandparents, visit with his family, get to bed, and then hunt hard all freaking weekend. Last time, I didn’t have a hunting license yet. I didn’t shower for three days, and I watched my first deer get gutted. Matt shot a button buck, and that was also the first deer I butchered. When we got the deer home, Matt hung it from one of the trees in our front yard, cut off the lower legs with the chainsaw, and then skinned and quartered it (with the chainsaw again). Our neighbors down the block were standing in their front yards, hands over their mouths in horror. I’ve since convinced him to keep that to the garage.

hanging

 

I’m hoping to do some filming to see if we can’t get a few minutes of decent footage to put up. That may mean me and Matt hunting together, rather than splitting up, but we’ll see.

Snacks!

I made a run to Farm and Fleet today for toe and body warmers this afternoon, after waking up to snow. We’re going to be still hunting tomorrow, and local meterologists have dropped tomorrow’s high down to 22. We’ll be getting out before dawn and sitting all day, so it’ll be damn chilly, especially still hunting.

So, I’m an epic snacker, and on top of that I just eat quite a bit throughout the day in general. Matt even said he’d want snacks so I put together some bags of snacks that will crinkle less than wrappers or something would. Farm and Fleet was utterly bananas today, so while I was milling around, waiting for the lines to maybe go down, I picked up a couple bags of their snacky/candy things.

I also added some half-eaten bags of other salty snacks- like the freeze dried edamame and salted peas you see.

I also added some half-eaten bags of other salty snacks- like the freeze dried edamame and salted peas you see.

Sportsman's mix, some other mixed nuts, salted peas, edamame, caramel nut clusters, and peppermint pretzels.

Sportsman’s mix, some other mixed nuts, salted peas, edamame, caramel nut clusters, and peppermint pretzels.

Probably not entirely healthy, no. And quite salty. So I’ve also already filled water bottles. We’ll be picking up hot chocolate on the way over in the morning. I also washed and folded all the hunting clothes today, and hunted down all the blaze pieces and backtag holders. All of that stuff in together in one spot so we can grab and go in the morning. Since I work tonight, Matt will get to do some prepping of his own, but at least I got some provisioning out of the way. Being cold, hungry, and in a caloric deficit is not something I’m OK with. Hopefully these hold me for the day. Or we get deer early in the day and drag the suckers out to head home.

Hunting: Now With More Tornado Warnings!

We made it back from La Crosse on Saturday afternoon just in time to not see a damn thing. This weekend was a rainy mess. It wasn’t especially chilly until Sunday evening. Saturday we both got soaked through and neither of us saw anything. In spite of the rain, there were two other cars in the parking area.

Sunday, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees over the afternoon. My hunting gear also didn’t dry overnight, so heading out late Sunday morning to hunt the gap between storms, I had a head start on my soaking. We waited out a particularly bad downpour in the truck, and then headed out. I called it for myself around 3pm in some rain, and ended up waiting in the truck for Matt until around 5. I headed back up the road to meet him at our usual spot, and saw just one deer, well past shooting light, heading up the field towards him. He never saw it though, and we made it back to the truck in 30mph wind gusts.

We had some tornado warnings up here in Wisconsin, however the storms hit worst down in Illinois. Some funnel clouds were sighted near home, but they missed my town (this time- three years ago they were hit very badly). Washington and the Pekin area, 60 miles to the southwest, were hit. A friend of mine from home found a piece of a Washington municipal sign in his back yard. Washington, apparently, was flattened. The storms also crossed over into Indiana. Hopefully those places can recover quickly.

Rifle season for us starts Saturday. There’s no hunting at all the day before (Friday). I’m hoping to make it out maybe Wednesday or Thursday night for one last bit of bowhunting until after gun and muzzleloader.  Saturday and Sunday will be the days to really get deer. After that, pretty much everything lays low until the season ends. We’re heading up north for Thanksgiving and the last weekend of rifle season. If there’s a lot of Matt’s cousins and family hunting at the cabin, we plan to hunt his grandfather’s back pasture. Gun season is the time we really count on to bring home deer. Hopefully we get some.