Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What a Steal!! Hanwag Boots Dirt Cheap

As I am on the mailing list for Sierra Trading Post (STP), I receive a catalog every month, the last contained an extra 25% off coupon.  STP, for those of you who don't know, is a discounter who buys overstock, closeout, last season, or liquidated goods at a bargain and resells it to the public at a significant discount.  Most of what they sell is stuff that has no interest to me but on occasion they have some real gems.  I bought my first "premium" fly reel (Abel) from them more than 10 years ago among other things like Barbour sweaters and such. 

But this time I think I struck the mother load.  While checking their site I noticed that they have some select Hanwag boots in stock.  Hanwag is a bootmaker from Germany known among the international mountaineering scene.  These boots, with the exception of one dealer who only stocks a few models, are extremely difficult to acquire in the States.  My father and I had considered buying some in the past from Europe but since sizing is always different from one brand to the next we never ended up purchasing any. 

So I was pretty ecstatic to see these Hanwags dirt cheap on the site and with the additional 25% coupon, what a deal:
Hanwag High Performance Trail Shoes $146.21
Hanwag Yukon $178.46
Hanwag Fjall Expedition Winter Boots $159.71
All these boots are made in Europe, finished in Germany.  These are not cheap imports. I was somewhat reluctant to buy the winter boots as I would rarely have a chance to wear them.  But I figured that my old man and I do have the intention of hunting in cold weather climates in the future so its better to get them for the cheap than to have to buy them when we go and pay full boat.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hagn Action Single Shot Is Complete

After about three years of waiting, my father's Martini Gunmakers Hagn action single shot in .30R Blaser is finished.  These are some pictures Ralf has sent him.  This rifle will be on display at the Dallas Safari Club convention in January 3rd-6th if you care to see Ralf's workmanship.  Afterwards my father will take delivery.  When he does expect more pictures from yours truly.

Martini Gunmaker Hagn Action With Claw Mounts In The White

My old man has sent me some pictures of his Hagn action single shot from Martini Gunmakers in the white. After about three years his rifle is now complete, these pictures are from Ralf during the building period. Finished rifle pics to follow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hunting with "The Pack"

Another day, another try.  As always once the tailgate opens, Kaiser raises his nose and air scents.
Lou is a hunting buddy of mine.  We first met at a NAVHDA meet and became fast friends as he had a drahthaar and a Land Rover and I the same.  Discovering we have similar taste in dogs, guns, trucks, and just about all thing Teutonic, it was easy to develop a friendship.  Over the years I got him into Merkels, Meindl boots and Darnes.  I've learned a lot about upland hunting from Lou as he hunts probably at least 80 days of the upland season (that will change now that he has a kid on the way).  We have shared a lot of our "secret" locations to on another, vowing never to reveal them to anyone else.  I have kept my part of the bargain, I believe Lou has as well.

It was 9am when Lou called us at the motel, letting us know that he'd be at the spot at 10.  So we waited and done some sight seeing.  The fall colors have finally come and even though sparse with trees the area was quite a sight.
We arrive just as Lou was making his way to the location.   Lou's pack was minus one dog.  Summer is in heat and was left home but the four others made the trip.  I rarely get to hunt with Lou anymore, the reason is his drahthaar Arnold is not dog-friendly.  We have had some issues with Arnie attacking Kaiser.  This never happens in the field but when we are making camp.  Its easier to just not hunt together.  Lou's other dogs, on the other hand, are some of the sweetest dogs ever and a true pleasure to be around.  Arnie was purchased semi-finished years ago from a trainer.  That trainer did a poor job of socializing him which is a shame and really does the purchaser a disservice by selling such a dog.  Thankfully Lou's other dogs were properly socialized since their birth and are friendly and playful.
The Pack minus one dog.
I started ahead of Lou so that we wouldn't have any issues with Arnie.  Eventually Lou was to my right a few hundred yards away.  Not long in our hunt a cottontail flushed and I fired with the IC then the mod barrel, missed. It eventually flushed again but I missed with the only shot I had.  As we moved on,  my dad was having a hard time keeping up so I told him to hunt this field as we were headed toward the mountain and planned to climb it to get to the other side.  We finally reached the mountain, as I looked at it from the base I told Lou I don't think I have it in me to climb.  So he climbed and I skirted around the base to reach the other side.  I was hugging alongside private property fence when a covey of 30 birds flush.  I took two shots missing because I flock shot it like an idiot.  They landed in the private property so I did not give chase.
The Pack backing one another.
The back side is named by me as Shangri-La.  Its been about two years since I've been back here.  Its not hunted much by anyone as its difficult to get to and private property surrounds much of it.  There are mountain quail, valley quail and chuckar here.  Lou and I flushed huge coveys back here.  Today though we couldn't find a single one.  What a shame.  This just proves how difficult this year is going to be.  Lou managed to flush a cottontail but could not connect with his Darne R10.  After sometime in Shangri-La we headed back.  One of the pack pointed and the rest of the dogs backed.  It was quite a scene unfortunately it was just a tweety bird.  A few rabbits and jacks flushed but of course I missed all the cottontails and managed another jack.
It was almost three and Lou was don for the day ready to head back to civilization.  I didn't want to deal with Friday LA traffic and decided to wait it out and stay to hunt another area.  We said our goodbyes and I headed to another area.   The new area was colder and there was slight snow.  It was not cold enough for the frost to last.  Once the flakes hit something it basically melted.  Tried I hunted for about an hour or so before giving up and calling it a trip.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jacks and Maggot Infested Quail

With the weather finally starting to cool off, Lou called me to see if I wanted to hunt with him on a day hunt.  I said sure but I was not going to drive all the way out to the Sierras just for a day.  I told him I'd hunt a day and a half.  So with the old man, we set off the day before to hunt by ourselves.

Kaiser still not in optimum hunting shape, I decided that we'd just hunt the evening.  We arrived at our location around 2pm.  There was plenty of sign with tracks everywhere.  We sweeped the area for a couple hours and discovered no birds .  While hiking back to the car, Kaiser began working the other side of the field and he began to get birdy.  Hiking in more, a covey of ten flushed wild about 40 yards from me.  Generally I will not take a shot at this distance but in my boredom I fired.  Of course I missed.  The covey flew over another hill.  Debating whether to give chase or stay and work this part of the field to see it f there were any stragglers.  Since I beat I was in no hurry climbing another hill so we continued to work this area.  No other birds remained but Kaiser began to get birdy again.  This time a jackrabbit flushed and I took him at about 35 yards.
 Jacks are normally considered trash by most people I know and I normally don't shoot them.  But I've been reading lately about a chef that actually prepares and eats them.  Jacks are North America's hare.  So they are big and their meat is dark and tough.  I have several European cookbooks that have hare recipes so I decided that if one flushes on me I'd take him and give it a try.  If it tastes like garbage like many American hunters claim it will just become dog food for Kaiser.

After searching this area I decided to see if I could refind that covey of ten.  I climbed the hill and sweeped back.  This proved only a waste of time.  These birds split.  This season no birds are holding for a point and they are flushing wild and at distance.
We moved up the road to try anther section that I've always bypassed.  I climbed this hill and found more track.  We sweeped the area and found nothing so we headed back to the car.  I continued to search the area and a lone male valley quail flushed wild at about 35 yards.  I took a shot with the mod barrel of my Merkel and missed.  Last week I could miss, this week I sucked.  We worked this area some more when Kaiser began to get birdy.  He flash pointed a bush and charged in before  I scream WHOA!  but it was too late he emerged out of that bush with a dead male valley quail.  Mostly likely a bird shot that a hunter could not find.  It must have been a few days old, although the feathers still bright, he was missing his eyes and as I plucked some feathers, I found a maggot so I dropped it and left it for the coyotes.
 After that,the sun beginning to set, it was time to head into town for a meal, shower and a bed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bond with a 500 NE?

I just ran across this on youtube.  The new Bond features a Anderson Wheeler 500 NE double rifle.  When I was younger I used to love Bond films, now that I am an adult I find them a bit silly even a bit lame.  What I wouldn't find lame would be seeing some of these lame celebrity types actually shooting the 500NE with real bullets opposes to blanks.  Now that would be funny.  Something like this:

Now I'd pay to see that!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Penne with Rabbit and Mushrooms

I decided to put to use the bounty of the last hunt. 

Saddle of Cottontail Rabbit and liver (you can use the legs if cooking for more than one person)
Diced Shallots
Green Onion
White Wine
Chicken Broth
Fresh Herbs- I used Chives, Thyme and Rosemary since that is all I had
Penne Pasta
Parmesan cheese

Dice the liver and saddle of the cottontail in bite sized pieces.  Slice the mushrooms.  Chop the herbs.  Grate the cheese.

Cook the Pasta in salted water.  Heat butter in a pan and add the diced shallots and green onions.  When cooked add diced rabbit until half way cooked.  Then add the sliced mushroom and herbs.  Deglaze with the wine and broth.  Reduce liquid to about half.  Add cooked pasta and toss. Retain the cooked pasta water. Then add the cheese and toss.  If the pasta is too dry add pasta water.  Of course season along the way.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How To Use a Bird Knife Gut Hook

Over the years I have been asked how to use a gut hook on a bird knife, I've even seen the same question asked on internet hunting forums.  So I've posted this video to help anyone who is still looking for an answer.   

Pluck the bird first and then follow the video. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dry Years Equals No Big Coveys

The last few years, I guess I've been spoiled.  Coveys of 50 to 100 quail were common for me even though most people were reporting little to no birds seen.  I guess I just knew where the birds were and others did not.  This year I wonder- if I'm not running into the numbers I'm used to, what are others seeing?  Maybe nothing. 
Morning Hunt

Today I decided to hit "The G" a little secret spot that seems only a few know about.  When I reached the area I noticed a pickup truck with two dog kennels in the bed parked near the area.  So I decided not to enter the area and hunt another.  I left for CBF.  When I first was introduced to this area, it was a gold mine.  I once saw a covey of several hundred quail here.  That of course was one of those glorious el nino years.  Since then as the wet years have become fewer and fewer, the birds are harder to find.  That being said the birds are still there, you just need to work for them. 

After gearing up and heading to the field, Kaiser was getting birdy.  Within the first 5 minutes a covey of 12 flushed not too far from where we parked.  I managed to make a shot but had no luck.  I saw them running and we went after them.  We chased them, flushing out the singles but were unable to connect with any.  We worked the field aggressively for several hours.  No other birds were found.  So we circled our way back to the truck.  A pair of valley quail flushed I took the one closest to my left and shot.  I saw the bird glide down into ground.  I called the dog and made chase.  I believe I hit him but it was not solid hit.  I must have only nicked him with on pellet.  The dry air made scenting difficult for Kaiser and we did not find him.  It must have took off running.  He headed to the Rover and headed into town for lunch as my Engel fridge was placed on a higher setting and froze our sandwiches.

Evening Hunt

After a horrible Mexican lunch, we headed back to The G.  The parked pickup was no longer there but I wondered if he had blown up all the coveys already.  There was only one way to find out.  We geared up and headed out.  After about a half mile we busted a few singles.  My father managed to connect with one and called us over to help find the bird.  We moved on and a group of four flushed wild.  I managed to hit the right to left crosser at about 30 yards.  Kaiser made the retrieve.  This time it was a male valley.  Continuing on for another quarter of a mile, a cottontail burst out of the sage brush, spooking the hell out of me and I took him with a shot from the modified barrel.  Rabbits are always a fun target, not to mention great eating.  Some of my upland buddies balk at the fact I shoot rabbits but I don't care.  They of course are Lab owners but I have a versatile for a reason.

We moved on finding sporadic birds and rabbits but we were unable to connect with anymore.  Conditions are dry and scenting is difficult for the dog.  While Kaiser was on birds, he managed no points he did have a few unconfident points (one where he points but rather than being stiff as a board, he was wagging his tail).  The birds were flushing wild and all my shoots were over 30 yards.  For this early in the season that is odd.  The birds we took were young and not mature holdovers but they are already wise enough to get out of town.  It appears it's going to be a tough season.
Looks like this guy is feeding on seeds and greens.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Going To Be a Tough Year!

Funny, I started this blog three years ago, as my personal hunting journal.  Prior to starting this, I had hunted at least 30 days of the 90 (or 120 if you count the early mountain quail season) bird hunting season.  Since starting this blog though, those days dwindled to pathetic numbers, as seen by the number of actual hunting posts within this blog.  I hope to rectify that this year although, I don't think I'll be getting to the 30 days from the past, I certainly hope the hunting posts do increase this year.
The old man and I decided to take a day and half hunting trip to my usual locations.  We left here around 10am so that I could bypass all the downtown LA traffic.  We made good time as I decided to drive around LA, although it was longer in distance, the lack of traffic saved us much in headaches and time.  While reaching one of my honey holes, I noticed all the dirt roads that allowed access were now posted with "No Trespass" signs.  Great.  The only way to reach my spots legally, is to park on top of the mountain traverse ascend toward the public lands.  Well having forgotten our sandwiches in the car, not having breakfast, and not being in hunting shape, and the combination of higher altitude air, I quickly gave up this idea after about a half of a mile in.  We headed back to the Rover and I decided to hit another not as "honey" but good enough hunting hole.
The drive to this area from the honey hole is not far.  We made it to to Joel's Spring and parked as we ate our sandwiches to fuel up.  Within the first 10 minutes of the hunt Kaiser and I were on birds.  A covey of about five flushed wild in a an area that kaiser was working.  On my first shot, I managed to hit a female valley quail with my 20 gauge size 6 B&P F2 ammo out of my IC barrel of my Merkel 47e.  She fell out of the sky like a sack of potatoes.  Although some consider it too big, I've decided to start using size 6 shot for quail.  By using it, I cripple less birds and most die immediately making the birds easy to find for the dog.  I can then spend less time searching for a downed bird and more time actually hunting.  Also if I run into chuckars, I will not feel undergunned.  For the rest of the day we were finding singles or pairs.  No big conveys.  Most of these birds were smart, holding tight, and flushing behind a tree or other obstacle so making it impossible for a shot.  We came home with only one bird this evening hunt.  While driving out, as the sun was making its last appearance of the day, a covey of 15 quail flushed in front of the road toward the safety of their roasting area for the night. We made no attempt to go after them as we had only a minutes of light left.  We headed to town for a nice hot Italian meal before we headed to out motel to rest up for tomorrow. 
I always check the crops of the birds I take.  Looks like this gal was feasting on Junipers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Boot Tip- Lacing Up

Lacing from the top down.
Lacing traditionally from the bottom up.
It seems like a silly thing to write about, lacing up your boots.  But when I bought my Meindl boots  at AJ Brooks in Vancouver years ago, the owner gave me a valuable tip.  Like most people, I used to lace my boots, placing the lace into the boot eyelet from underneath.  The gentleman at the store told me, rather than doing it that way, I should wrap the lace from the top down.  That way the lace is less likely to slip and you'll get a firmer warp around the ankle.  I also rarely have to adjust my boots when I'm afield when lacing this way and tying with a double overhand knot to secure it.  I have tested it in the past years and he is right and I even do it to my wading boots as well.  (Actually I did before I went to the BOA system).  I have never met anyone who has ever laced their boot the same way, nor have I ever seen it worn that way in the field.  So I figured to write about it here.  Try it.
7/7/14 Video now added to clarify