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Volume 5 Issue 4 Fall 2013

The Waiting Game
Steve Bemke - HH Pro Staff


It was day two of our Wyoming pronghorn archery hunt. Rain had soaked the prairies during the weeks prior to our arrival; leaving natural waterholes scatted among the thousands of acres.  We where in an area that held good antelope numbers, and a Pope & Young antelope was a very realistic goal during drought years. However, the numerous water sources had scattered the pronghorn all across the area, making it difficult blind hunting over the wells that the pronghorn would typically water at throughout the day.

Day one consisted of a fifteen hour sit with very little action. It wasn’t till early evening that I saw my first pronghorn.  I ended up seeing four in all.  One decent buck that refused to present a shot and three smaller ones that presented numerous shots. One was so close to my blind, I could have reached out and grabbed him.  It turned out that I was the only one in my group to have action at my blind that day and that was unheard of in this area.

I had never taken a pronghorn with my bow before. As much as we all wanted to shoot a 70 class goat, we also knew under these conditions, we may have to refine our expectations a bit, and that was ok. Shortly after I got in my blind on day two, I watched a mule deer buck walk atop the ridge above me.  I took this as a good sign of things to come. Still, the morning was as slow as the day before. I figured most water hole actions would occur later in the day, so I took advantage of was left of the cooler morning to scout and try my hand and spot and stalk. 

I spotted two very nice bucks bedded a long ways off.  The problem was, they where on a hill in which they could see for miles around. A successful opportunity at these guys with a bow was slim at best.  So I continued on to find a more stalkable situation. Awhile later, I came around the corner of small ravine and saw an interesting rock about 200 yards away. I glassed it to discover a buck bedded with his head down looking away from me.

There was nothing between me and him but dirt and rocks and some very sparse sagebrush. He wasn’t a big buck, but a spot and stalk kill on a pronghorn, not matter what size, was a trophy in my eyes. So I stayed right behind his ears and moved forward with range finder and bow in hand. I moved quickly but quietly. The wind was fairly strong, and masked any noise. 150 yards, 120, 105, I crept closer, my heart pounding with each step.  I need to get to 60 yards. Right about 80 yards, he tilted his head just slightly as I ranged him. I froze, but his vision was too good. He quickly stood up, looked at me and ran a ways before looking back to see what I was. It was worth every step I took.

Not far from where he was bedded, I found a winter kill of a pronghorn buck.  One of two I would find that morning and grabbed their horns as a small souvenir. As the day heated up, I headed back to my blind for some lunch and a quick nap.  The afternoon in my blind was absent of any pronghorn, but I had a feeling sooner or later, something would come to water as the evening approached. Finally at 6:00, I spotted a buck walking past the side of my blind. I had my bow ready, and expected him to continue down toward the water, just 20 yards away. Only he decided to turn and feed not 5-8 yards from my blind.

He put his head down, I drew back, settled my pin on his shoulder and released. Just like that, hours of sitting and waiting, turned into 20 seconds of heart pounding action that made it all worth while. The buck expired only 30 yards away, and I couldn’t have been happier with my first pronghorn bow kill; especially in such difficult conditions.

Shortly after I dressed him out, I made my way up the hill to get cell service and call for my ride. Waiting for some time, as I was quite a ways from camp, I’ll never forget how quiet it was while I sat atop that hill, overlooking the prairie, watching the sun begin to go down over the horizon. I felt like the only man earth.  As I sat there and waited, I buck made his way down to a waterhole created from the prior rains just behind me. He knew I was there, but didn’t seem to mind as he watered just 70 yards away.   I guess he knew I was a tag short, or maybe we just both appreciated the perfect evening as it was. 



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I guess that is why they call them “King”
 By Brett Grimm - HH Pro Staff

“That is one Ugly Fish, What is it?” was a common question I got when I posted the pictures of the King Salmon that I caught in Northern Michigan on my Facebook Page.  I had to chuckle every time I read that, because almost everyone has eaten Salmon at some point, but I guess it just never occurred to them what a Salmon actually looks like and the Spawning run of the King Salmon on the Pere Marquette River is the place to get up close and personal with the fish they call King! 

Bringing home nearly 50lbs of fresh salmon filets was only a bonus to the thrill and excitement of catching a 27lbs Salmon on a Fly Rod! The Pere Marquette River is a salmon run just off of Lake Michigan, a shallow tributary that is maybe 50 yards wide, where fall had not yet set in and the lush green vegetation that lined banks gave way to fallen trees and sunken logs that makes it sort of an obstacle course for the boat to get up river to fish the shadowed deeper holes that the salmon like rest in just out of the sun on their way to spawn. 

We arrived at our spot hours before daylight in the dark and moonless night, to ensure that we would be the only ones fishing the hotspots that our guide Doyle had scouted out with a previous group. As we waited, we cooked and ate breakfast, had some coffee and discussed the plan of attack for the day. We would be using 9 foot, 10 weight Fly rods with 8 lbs tippet rigged with a weight and 2 flies, a nymph half way down from the tube weight and a customized salmon egg at the end of the line.  Occasionally we were interrupted by a thundering splash of a salmon that broke the silence of darkness that surrounded us.  Doyle told us that “The Run” this year had fewer fish, but the fish that were coming up the river were considerably bigger. 

As the sunlight started to light the day, I discovered there was defiantly a learning curve throwing such a different set up with a fly rod, but it didn’t take long to feel the subtle bump on the line near the end of my drift and with a hard, quick pull of the rod over my head, I set the hook and it was on! 

The orange fly line went tight, excitingly watching the erratic movements of my line before it suddenly just took off down the river. As it got close to a sunken brush pile, out of the water, like a rocket shot the mighty King Salmon who was not happy about being hooked up.  The speed and power of these fish truly amazed me, it was all I could do to try and keep him from getting me tangled up in the brush, but still knowing I had to finesse him, because of the lightweight tippet.

As the mighty fish hit the current and throttled down river, the reel spun so fast in my hand, I was afraid the thumb crank would snap one of my fingers right off.  Hip deep in the water, I followed the King down the river, trying to get some line back and wear him down.  Just when I thought he was done and ready for the net, he would make another amazingly fast run, always headed for the safety of the underwater brush which seemed nearly impossible to keep him out of. Sliding on the rocky bottom in the cold swift current of the river severely limited my ability to really control the powerful determination of the King.

The battle went on for 20 minutes with dominant runs up and down the river, while my forearms would burn with exhaustion. My heart would skip a beat in fear of him spitting the hook as he would twist and roll as he jumped out of the water, sometimes six feet in the air! But, I eventually won the fight and I ultimately beat the King in his own waters, I had worn him down and we were able to net him. As I looked back up the river, I could see the boat probably 300 yards away.  He had dragged my butt that far down river from where I had first hooked into him. It was probably one of the best inshore battles that I have ever had with a fish; I guess that is why the call them ‘KING”

Over the day and a half I spent on the Pere Marquette River, I hooked up with over 50 fish some long drawn out epic fights only to be broken off, others would spit my hook during their aerial acrobatics, but I did manage to net six King Salmon on my fly rod that averaged well over 20lbs. Today, I am back home and eating like a “King” as I am dinning on Smoked Salmon, Grilled Salmon, Pan Seared and finding new ways everyday to eat the fish they call King!

If you are interested in all the excitement of Fly Fishing for Salmon without the costs of going to Alaska, I highly recommended the Tributary Rivers of Northern Michigan during the Fall Salmon Run; you can contact my guide and outfitter at www.peremarquetteoutfitters.com request Doyle Melton.


  Newsletter Spotlight  

By Leonard Wolter, Host of Hidden Creek Adventures TV!

It all looks so easy from the recliner.  Just grab a video camera, climb a tree, shoot a deer, and you have yourself a TV show.  As a matter of fact, in some of the elk hunting videos I had seen, those video cameras seemed to pull the bulls right into the hunters.  Maybe these big bruisers just secretly wanted to be movie stars.  Simple! Right?  So that is why when my buddy Bill Perry, renowned owner of Hidden Creek Outfitters, called with the bright idea, "let's start our own hunting show", I said, "Sure, simple!” 

A grown man should learn after the early days of dating that nothing in life is simple.  Take your best day in the field, of which there are only a handful, add a video camera and let the troubles begin.  Oh, as if that isn’t enough.  Don't take the most popular method of videography and plant your butt in a tree stand with a camera man strapped to the tree.  Let's really complicate things with horses and mountains and blizzards.  Yep, simple!

But humans love to adapt.  We learned to modify scabbards to carry our tripods, changed our pack panniers on the mules to carry the cameras, extra batteries were added to the arsenal to the lack of electricity in our remote camps.  The lightest but most durable cameras with the most powerful lenses were acquired.  After all this was put together we hit the field.

Just remember, always expect the unexpected.  Like the day Bill and I are hunting elk with our cameraman Matt Burke.  We had been following a herd with a screaming bull up the side of the mountain almost to tree line.   As we closed the distance, the odor of rutting bull became so intense I thought maybe he was in Bill's back pocket.  This was going to be like shooting ducks in a barrel.  Rifle ready, camera ready, Bill let's out two of the sweetest cow calls you have ever heard.  Why then did the herd explode into a dead run away from us upwind of us?  And what is that charging straight at us through the black timber?  Was it my bull?  No, it’s a giant grizzly bear that has been hunting the same herd that we have.  Bill's calls were so sweet that they convinced the bear to eat us for lunch!  After some very loud hooting and hollering mixed in with some extremely explicit language the bear came to a stop just twenty yards from us.  Displaying his disgust with a large amount of saliva and popping his jaws, Mr. Bear slowly backed off into the black timber.  Simple!

Speaking of bears, Bill and I were in Alaska hunting black bears and brown bears as they were emerging from hibernation.  After four or five days, Bill harvested a nice black bear.  At that point Bill was going to fly out and take care of matters at the Ranch.  Since we had been avoided by any brown bears the guide and I decided to fly to another location.  Why stay where we were in a nice old bunk house with a roof and all?  We landed at the new location and after the required layover, started hunting on day eight.  Once again a beautiful day, should I be suspect of eight straight sunny days in Alaska?  At the end of that beautiful day I shot a nice brown bear and the guide called in a plane to get me the next morning.  As we hiked back to camp I remember how hard the wind began to blow.  We arrived at our little dome tent in the tundra just after midnight.  The blizzard started around five in the morning and lasted for three and a half days.  All planes were grounded.  Stuck in a little tent for eighty hours was torturous. Hey, the show will be simple.

Eventually you get use to the cameraman whispering, "Don't take the shot, not enough light".  Or, "It's not in focus" or "I can't see through your thick head".  The hardest comment to get use to is the five ugliest words a cameraman can use.  The ones that were used when I made the world class shot on my Aoudad in West Texas, or when I shot my Missouri turkey this spring that was pulling a Mohammad Ali on the strutting tom decoy.  "I forgot to hit record"

Yep, it's simple.  Join the Hidden Creek Adventures crew on Hunt Channel TV, airing on Dish Network channel 266 at 7:00 pm central time.  If you don't have Dish Network, go to our website hiddencreekadventures.com and you can click on the episodes there. 


 Summer Fun

by Bill Ernst – HH Pro Staff

As we transition from Spring Turkey season to the summer months, we often refer to it as 'The Dog Days of Summer'. The frequent road trips have come to an end from travelling the Trade Show circuit, Expo's and Banquets are few and far between, hunting season has passed and we are left in a void of hot / humid weather. Most people do not consider the possibilities available to get back into the outdoors and enjoy the thrill.

Over the last several years, a couple of things have really made their way to the front line and main stream of Outdoor enthusiasts. Hog hunting has exploded, to the level that Ammo manufacturers are marketing new lines of Hog specific ammo, Bow Fishing has blown up with a variety of new products and Outfitters across the country, and Reality TV has burst the Alligator Hunting market to its highest in history.

A lot of these trips can be obtained at a minimal expense offering everyone the chance at a nice trophy, excellent freezer fillers, and a chance to stay in the outdoors longer.

Summer is a good time to step back and plan for your upcoming fall season. It also offers you plenty of time for practice, food plots, archery competitions, etc. However, I believe that everyone deserves a bit of R / R every now and again.

That is exactly what I did this summer. I applied for my Alligator Tags out of Florida back in early spring. It was no surprise that I was drawn as it is a money maker for the State of Florida to supply Non Resident Tags. I was quick to contact my Friend and Outfitter Grayson Padrick of Central Florida Trophy Hunts. Grayson has been chasing Swamp Lizards for a long time and has a pretty good grasp on the business. With his availability of equipment and knowledge, he was a sure thing. I have hunted with him in the past and have always been pleased with my experience.

Alligator hunting can be as exciting as it is challenging. It is no easy task to hit a gator on the move with Bow Fishing equipment in the water. After the initial shot, there is a lot of effort in wearing the gator down and tiring it out to get it boat side for a Harpoon shot. This allows you to get a stronger line on them to have better control. Once this has been accomplished, it’s time to get them boat side for the final kill shot with a Bang Stick.

It did not take long as we set out on the second night of the first season. We spent a total of two and a half hours on the water to fill my Tags. As a Non-Resident, when you are awarded Tags, you get 2 Tags to fill. I was hunting with Bow Fishing equipment mounted on a crossbow from the Air Boat. The alligator population on the St. Johns River basin where we were hunting has exploded. With 2 alligators taken, both being over 10' was a most memorable hunt. In most instances, any gator over 9' in length is considered a Trophy Class animal.

I had planned to spend several days in the Sunshine State, and figured on utilizing every minute of it. I made quick work of contacting some friends and lining up a couple other ventures. Hogs are over populated in Florida and I wanted to use that opportunity to my advantage. I know a few people that have Hog Dogs specifically trained for Baying Hogs. I spent an evening running dogs in a privately owned orange grove chasing the nuisance animals. We managed to Bay a few and get some good pictures in the process. That is an adrenaline rush like no other to hear the dogs sound off and go to work. Hog Outfitters are plentiful in Florida and can generally be found simply by word of mouth. These hunts are fairly inexpensive, and can be Free in some instances as local Farmers see hogs as a nuisance and damaging to their property and crops.

It only seemed natural with all the water that I try to get some fishing in as well. Florida offers some excellent Fresh Water Bass Fishing and Salt Water opportunities. A Non Resident Salt Water Fishing license in Florida is available Over the Counter and can be obtained at a minimal expense (Less than $20). Again I contacted some friends and lined up an evening of Salt Water Fishing off the beach. If you would prefer to have a Guided or Chartered Trip, don't worry. A Half Day off Shore Fishing Trip can be arranged at a moment’s notice and is fairly inexpensive. Usually costing around $50 per person.

Surf Fishing can be fun in its simplest form. There is nothing like standing barefoot in the sand and enjoying the scenery and the great outdoors. Local Bait Shops are numerous and readily available for supplies and info. After just a few hours of fishing, I was lucky enough to land a 5' Shark form the Beach. If you are going to try and Surf Fish, It is best to check the Tide Tables. Try to plan your adventure around High Tide. This allows your larger fish to approach the Beach closer over your outer laying Sand Bar.

This was a weekend to remember. I made the trip by myself except for one Crew member (Twyla Wheeler) to help out with Camera work. However, this could have easily been turned into a Family Vacation if you should so choose. There are many things for a Family to do together outside of the Amusement Parks and Attractions. Enjoying the outlying scenery from an Air Boat, Touring National Park areas, enjoying the Coastal Waterways and all they have to offer. So, the next time you or someone you know gets gloomy about the 'Dog Days of

Summer' ... Try to think Outside the Box on a variety of opportunities available to keep your senses sharp.

Bill 'Spur Chaser' Ernst


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