Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Turkey Town pt 1

Even though I'm a complete novice turkey hunter, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite hunts of the year! Not only was I excited to get back into the woods, but I was also excited because this was going to be Caden's very first hunt. Since he passed Hunter Safety earlier this year (read about that HERE) we've been looking forward to his turkey hunt to practice what he learned. I put in some evenings scouting and found a few toms and some jakes doing almost exactly what they had done last year. We also came across several spots where some turkeys hadn't quite made it through the long winter. 

The 'scouting' hikes were also a great opportunity to do some shed hunting and we actually found a few!

Being a music teacher never seems to come with an off-season, but spring isn't even close to that. Festivals, concerts, practices, and finishing out the school year all managed to get in the way of turkey hunting but we tried our best to get out in the evenings whenever we could. The boys were going to take turns going out with me because we only have one shotgun (and I thought having fewer people would be easier to minimize noise/movement/distractions). The first evening came and Caden got his first chance in the field. The plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost, not really trying to call them in unless they wanted to talk. The cold evening was just starting to go dark when we spotted some birds that had snuck in behind us. Caden got a shot at a tom, but he had to turn quick to shoot, and missed. 

Atley got the 1st morning hunt, but we completely struck out other than spooking some birds as we were still trying to get where we wanted to set up. Amazing how quickly thoughts of being cursed, or unlucky, creep in despite him having success in the past. The youth hunt ended without a bird for either boy, but they still had the opportunity to get one during the general hunt. Unfortunately, the weather kept trying to extend winter and I didn't want to force the boys to go out in bad weather, fearing that a bad experience might turn them against going out at all. Of course this is when a group of several jakes presented an opportunity. I decided against filling my tag with a young bird since I'd shot one for my first-ever turkey last year.

An evening of better weather got both the boys to come with me and Atley was up. Again, the plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost. Before we could get into position we spotted some birds in a field on private. We used the terrain to stay out of sight and worked up and above them. We slowly worked to where we thought they'd be coming through on the way to roost. As seems to be the trend of this year we were busted by a hen on our way to set up (maybe we're being too aggressive?) and we froze in our tracks until she moved off. Then we went into "Ninja-Sniper" mode, as Atley called it, and tailed the group of birds hoping they'd cross the fence to where we could get a shot. Super slow going! We did get to see a jake try to mount a hen and get smacked down by a tom. Suddenly, a red head was on the right side of the fence, but Atley couldn't see it. Quickly, it disappeared down the trail and we were in hot pursuit. Once we spotted it again Atley made a great shot and filled his tag! 

One thing I'm trying to be better at is letting the boys be more involved with the decision making and calling. Atley made all the decisions that led to his harvest. Once we spotted the birds he decided to use the scrub oak to hide us, he decided to take the high trail, and he decided to trail the flock. It definitely made the experience better for him and hopefully will translate into getting him out hunting more.

More to come about Caden's hunt and how I finished out my season. Good times with great people and lots of turkey nuggets! 

Hope you're as lucky,

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Da Greeen!

Dad taught us how to fly fish small streams and rivers with an automatic reel, a level leader and a renegade. There were no other flies on the stream. Fly fishing was for July and August only, once the water came down and cleared. I fished this way for years, catching quite a few fish and devoting the other months of the year to fishing lakes with my spinning rod. One summer, we did a job building a garage and pouring a new driveway for my Dad's cousin Gary. We knew Gary fly fished, but he used all those weird flies and didn't fish like us. During the build, there were several mornings when Gary would head out to fly fish, even though it was only May! He had a lot of success which made us want to get out too. Weston and I headed for the middle provo river where we figured was some of the only fishable water in the state at that time of year. We caught some fish, little ones, using our 'traditional' approach. Talking with Gary at the end of the next day he invited us into the house to show me a couple of flies and how to tie them. I still have those flies: Deer hair caddis, pheasant tail, para-hopper, Chernobyl Ant. After a trip (or two) to Sportsman's Warehouse and a local fly shop (full of snobs) I gathered all the needed materials to reproduce these flies on my own and an addiction at the vise took hold.

Another thing that Gary showed us was how to float Utah's Green River below Flaming Gorge on kick boats. I distinctly remember floating that river and watching Gary catch 5 fish or more to my every strike. This fishing was SO WEIRD! Sitting in what felt like an easy chair floating down the stream "with" your fly was strange, but the way the fish would come up and sip the fly from the surface was the weirdest. Fishing the riffles with a renegade meant that strikes came sudden and violent, it was too much to wait until the fish took the fly and several times I pulled the fly right out of their mouths.

Fast forward 15 years and I don't think there's a single renegade in my boxes (although I should have some, it's a great fly) and I've been trying to fish like Gary ever since. With these memories haunting me throughout the long cold winter, I decided to make the trek out to the green after several years of 'being too busy' with Dad and my boys in tow. 

Stayed the night at Dad's with Del and the boys since she had to be up north the next morning for a work conference. Early morning we headed out by way of Wyoming to the green, arriving at Little Hole not long after sunrise. To start we were the only ones around, though we knew that wouldn't last. In my rush to get a fly wet I didn't put on waders, and ended up not getting them on all day even though it would've made things a lot easier. 

Fish were active in the riffles taking beatis nymphs and I managed to catch a few before people started joining us and we decided to hike up the canyon to try a different spot. Most active fish were out of reach from shore, so we headed back to the truck for some lunch and a break from the wind. Watching more and more people arrive made us decide to drive up to try below the dam before heading for home. 

The change in scenery and getting out of the wind was nice, but Dad didn't want to fish too much longer so he dropped Atley and me off to fish for a little while and he took a nap while Caden told him all about the movie "Tron" that he's been obsessed with lately. We found a pod of rising bows to play with and they were willing to come up for a parachute blue wing olive. The  fish were cruising around a back eddy - so timing and accuracy were needed to fool them into eating at the end of a 40 foot cast. Some of the most fun you can have while flyfishing - sight fishing dries to rising fish. A few fish brought to hand and we decided it was time to call it a day. 


A sleepy blur of sagebrush and kids talking about random things is all I remember of the drive home as Dad made good use of the nap time he'd had. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Saturday, June 29, 2019


In addition to teaching music at the local high school, for the past two years I've also been in charge of jazz music for our state which includes running the State Jazz Festival the weekend before Spring Break. Leading into this festival is always pretty stressful, but the one thing that kept me going were some loosely laid plans of fishing during the break. The one definite plan was a trip with Weston and Dad to where nessie has been rumored to live. As it always seems, the best laid plans were screwed by the unexpected. This time Dad catching a stomach bug kept him from coming, but me and Wes decided to go without him. 

The new plan included staying at Weston's the night before and then making an early morning drive. I haven't watched basketball for awhile, so I was shocked when watching the game before going to bed. When did the NBA stop playing defense? Went to sleep with the image running through my head of some guy breaking his leg during the game...

The drive was a good one talking with Wes and listening to Randy Newberg podcasts. The wind was waiting for us as we got out of the truck but right away Weston hooked up on a good rainbow. These fish were coming off the spawn looking like they'd been run through a blender, but still had a lot of fight in them. 

Tried lots of streamers since that was the kind of fishing we wanted to do, but the good old Olive Wooly Bugger was more effective than anything else. Fishing was spotty, but we made contact in most spots we stopped. Even the new spot that required a little more effort by way of walking produced some fish, including the only splake (Brook Trout + Lake Trout = Splake) I've ever seen out here.

The next day Weston had to work early so we called it a day decently early and hit the long road. Lots of fun and a great reprieve from work.

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Good for What Ails Ya

All week long I've been fighting with nausea and soreness, missing a few days of work because of it. Dad called mid week and said he was heading south to a lake where the fishing is usually good in the early spring, and asked if I wanted to come down Saturday. I wanted to, but an early morning, a long drive and more time on my feet than I'd had all week just didn't seem to fit with how I was feeling. The fishing was epic by all reports. 

Instead, I stayed home and watched the weather improve throughout the morning until it was just too nice to stay home. A local stream would make for a quick trip and the boys decided to come with! When we got to the stream I was a little surprised to see someone else fishing, but there was still plenty of stream for everyone. Unfortunately, the rod that we'd grabbed to share between us was the one that Atley had broken on our last trip....

Ran back home to switch out the rod and stopped to get Deli a drink on the way. As we came out of the little restaurant the guy that had been fishing the stream passed us. With the drink delivered and a new rod in hand, we headed back to the stream to see if any fish wanted to play. Atley was up first and did a great job nabbing the first fish on a prince nymph.

We tried to get Caden a fish, but they were being just difficult enough that he couldn't make it happen. We moved upstream, working the spots we could reach from the shore since none of us had waders on (in fact, I need to buy some new ones...) The last spot that we fished before we all agreed on heading home was a deep pool where we usually can trick a trout or two. Luck was with us as I hooked and landed a beautiful brown. Any day I can get out and fish with my boys is a good one! 

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, March 10, 2019


You know how it is, right? When your job is looking to take over the weekends and the weather forecast says you should stay home on the only days still free. So what do you do? You call around to see who is willing to brave the weather and go on a marathon drive in hopes of finding some open water. Sane people turn you down and try to talk you out of it. Dad and Atley agreed to go, and the plan comes together to make a day trip where travel time will most likely equal fishing time. You run to the vice to make sure that you have the flies that would've worked last time, even though you know you can't fill the boxes in a short session.

"At least it will be fly-fishing," you tell yourself in an attempt to justify the money spent and the time behind the wheel. The first leg of the trip is a drive to Dad's house where we'll spend the night, until about 2:30 in the morning when you'll start the real drive. Dad will talk to you the whole way to make sure you're awake, and the topics will vary widely. From politics he knows you won't agree with, to family members who are trying to complicate lives. Things that will keep you engaged, fishing and hunting trips might also be discussed, but no concrete plans will come of these. 

Arriving on the scene, it's exactly how you knew it would be. Cold, wind, snow and coyotes in evidence with the promise of more throughout the day. Some of the dogs you see, like the one that runs the shore opposite of you until it's sure that it doesn't want to get any closer, others you'll only hear. The cold, wind and snow all team up to make you question your motives but when Dad hooks into the first fish of the day the doubts go away. You're here to fish, because you're a fisherman. Everything else are just details that need to be managed. 

Atley was trying to manage the cold that was making his hands hurt when he retreated to the truck to warm up. The wind decided to push his fly rod into the path of his closing door right before it came closed with a snap. His anger isn't lost on you, but you assure him that we can build a new one and we can share a rod for the rest of the trip. No big deal, although you feel bad that he's so upset. The tiger trout that you open your day with doesn't make his mood improve, but staying in the truck for a little while warms him up enough to try fishing again.

A new spot, not too far away, seemed to bring the cold wind into greater focus, even if the fishing did pick up. The mistake of not bringing a net is one that you had hoped to get past by this point in your fishing career, but sure enough it wasn't with the equipment you packed. Tailing fish is tough, but it's even harder when you can barely feel your fingers. Some fish are worth it, and the ones that seem to like the Green Hare's Ear that you're fishing for the first time are well worth the effort. A new personal best rainbow is celebrated with a short stint in the truck to warm back up, even the adrenaline can't keep you out there for too long. Losing an even bigger fish doesn't even piss you off, though it may haunt you in the days to come. 

Dad and Atley are struggling to find fish. Atley just can't seem to be in the right place at the right time, Dad is refusing to change to a nymph and indicator insisting on staying with the bugger that got him that first fish. A new spot brings some fish to Atley, but Dad just can't seem to make it come together. 

Even with a very long, tired, drive looming we still hit up the first spot to see if fishing has improved before calling it a day. Lots of fun looking for fin in the cold, but Spring will be welcomed if it ever shows.

Hope you're as lucky,


Sunday, February 24, 2019

First Turkey

Not much has been happening around here, besides work and watching the snow fall. I haven't even really settled into tying season, although if I don't get on that soon it might not happen this year. Looking through my boxes just now it seems like most of what I tied last winter is still there, which makes me wonder what the hell I did last year. I know I didn't get out as much as usual because of eye surgery and all the time watching the world burn but I've never had such full boxes to start a year. Guess that means I'll need to make up for it this year. 

Dad's been sitting on a Fall Turkey tag since November but just hasn't been able to come down this way and try to get his first turkey. The tag expires at the end of February so he finally made the trip on the last weekend. It would've been so much easier before there was 3 feet of snow on the ground, but now we're relegated to the roads and right around the house. Luckily, we've been seeing turkeys but I knew that waiting them out without many options would be quite the test for my Dad who's more impatient that I am. 

Thankfully Dad didn't come down at the crack of dawn, but instead waited until mid-morning to arrive at our place. Did I mention that there was a bit of snow? Dad found out that we weren't kidding when his truck got stuck in the driveway. Attempts to get his four wheel drive engaged weren't successful so we used a chain and pulled his truck out with ours. It wasn't a huge project, although getting our truck out of the garage without sliding into Dad's was a little bit of a trick. 

Once Dad's truck was taken care of we took a little ride to see if any birds were around and saw quite a few, but none where we could hunt them. I think it drove Dad nuts to sit and wait for the birds to come to us, but we'd been seeing them by the house in the afternoon so we played it smart and waited. Sure enough, the birds worked up the road and Dad waited for an opportunity where he could make a good shot and be sure to only hit one bird. Not quite like calling them in during the Spring hunt, but still pretty fun. I was happy for Dad and it seemed like he had a good time. Turkey strips for dinner and a notched tag felt pretty good. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Western Big Game Application Deadlines

It's that time of year when the snow piling up outside makes you think ahead to the adventures that are to come, but if you don't get your application in some opportunities are going to pass you by! The end of this month marks the first deadline that always sneaks up on me, Non-Resident Elk in Wyoming. Rather than spend another year being surprised by another deadline, I decided to compile a list of all the state's deadlines and figured some of you would find this helpful too. 


  • February 12 (online): Elk, Antelope
  • May 14 (Paper) June 11 (Online): Deer, Sheep, Bison
  • September 10 (Paper) October 8 (Online): Spring Bison, Bear, Javelina
  • April 2: All Species


  • April 30: Moose, Sheep, Goat
  • June 5: Deer, Elk, Antelope
  • August 15: 2nd Controlled Draw
  • March 15: Deer, Elk
  • May 1: Moose, Sheep, Goat, Bison
  • June 1: Antelope
  • June 30: Non-Resident Alternate List
  • March 8: Mule Deer Guided
  • April 22: All Species
  • June 24: Deer 2nd Draw
  • July 2: All Species Bonus Point
  • March 20: All Species
  • March 7: All Species
  • March 21: Bonus Point


  • January 31: Non-Resident Elk
  • February 28: Moose, Sheep, Goat, Bison
  • May 31: Resident Elk
  • May 31: Deer, Antelope
  • June 24-28: Leftover Deer, Elk, Antelope
  • After July 15: Leftover Deer, Elk, Antelope (First come, first serve)
Not that this means that I can afford to hunt all (or any) of these states, just that with this list I can plan ahead and know when I need to apply if I choose to. Fall will come faster than I think, or will ever be ready for, so now is the time to plan ahead. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hunter's Education

When I was a kid, about 10 or 11, I remember going to Hunter's Education as part of my transition into a young adult. Becoming one of the boys that got to participate in hunting trips was a big deal in my family and it made the weekly class with my instructor named Rusty bearable. When it came time for Atley to do his Hunter's Ed there was an online course that we went through together which made me appreciate how my Dad went to class each week with each of his six kids. Once the 9 unit online course was completed, Atley then had to spend a morning completing the field day at the rifle range and taking the written test. 

It's probably just because Caden's my baby boy, but it still seemed surreal that it was his turn to go through the Hunter Education program. The program has changed quite a bit in the few years since Atley took the course and Caden was able to do his all in one day. We started the day out by dropping by the hardware store and purchasing his voucher that upon completion of the course becomes his hunting license. The classroom was pretty full with about 50 students and their parents, undoubtedly the upcoming Big Game Draw is motivating people to get it done. 

The classroom portion really focused on gun safety, which is good, but didn't talk too much about other skills usually included in the course. Things like game identification, habitat, carrying capacity, hunting techniques, and wilderness survival were either glassed over or ignored completely. I knew that there was no way to fit everything into a single day, but I had hoped for more. Fortunately, the things that were covered were presented in a very easy to understand and memorable way. As I write this we're a week removed from the class and Caden still remembers the two most important rules, "Control your muzzle and treat every gun as if it's loaded." 

He put these into practice as we moved into the shooting portion of the class at the rifle range. The highly structured process that each student goes through ensures safety and I was glad to see Caden act so responsibly with a firearm without any help from me. After the shooting we headed back into the classroom where Caden took the written portion of the test and then went through a field experience where he assessed the safety and efficacy of different shooting opportunities. 

I know that Caden learned a lot, but we still have a long way to go and will continue working on his outdoor and safety skills for years to come. I appreciate the effort that our Division of Natural Resources is making to lower the hurtles for new hunters, I just hope that they learn enough to be safe in the field. I'm excited for the opportunities to experience the outdoors with my sons this upcoming year!

Hope you're as lucky,

To sign up for Hunter's Education in Utah go to: https://wildlife.utah.gov/hunter-education.html

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Ice and Fire

The changing of the calendar year always seems to make us look back critically and look forward with renewed hope for change. An assessment of how we spent our year is inevitable and my 2018 seemed oddly lacking in the fishing area. I did get out a few times, including some great trips, but where I usually fish about once a week, this year I was lucky to get out once a month. I did get some great hunting trips, despite not really drawing any tags for myself. I also got laser eye surgery over the summer which I think will be great in the long term even if it cost me time on the water this year. 

Coming to the conclusion that I didn't get enough fishing this year, plans were made to get out fly fishing in spite of the cold temperatures. I love to ice fish, but it's not the same as flinging a fly and I knew how I wanted to finish out the year. Dad and Weston were too busy trying to get my sister's kitchen remodel done, so Jeff and I headed out in-between snow storms to try our luck. Stopping at the gas station I ran in to grab a cup of coffee, and the attendant refused payment saying, "Have a good day!" I was pretty stoked to be on the receiving end of what seemed like a charitable act until we were down the road a couple miles and I took that first sip. The coffee was cold and tasted like it had been sitting out all night...thanks.

Dawn broke cold and harsh, but not without it's own beauty as Jeff gave the first spot a try. Icy guides are never fun and having them on every other cast can be frustrating, but the real shock was that we didn't find any fish to start our day. We were starting to wonder if this day was going to be a fishless one, when Jeff got the first fish of the day at the second spot he tried. A quick release and Jeff was back to fishing. We broke out the camera when he hooked into something that felt significantly heavier than anything he'd caught so far. What came to hand was a beautiful tiger trout, the biggest fish of the trip and a personal best tiger trout for Jeff.

I managed a couple of fish on a black Woolly Bugger, though the fish didn't seem too excited about it. I was trying to take it easy and just enjoy being there with my sweet little fiberglass rod in hand, but the fishing was a little slower than I'd like and so I moved into a different spot to see if I could change my luck. The new spot gave up several fish on a green Copper John including my biggest rainbow of the year! 

People moved in on us so we jumped in the truck to find a different spot. The first place we tried seemed okay until just after we started fishing and a couple guys pulled up that seemed more interested in cuddling up to us than trying to catch fish. Annoying, but they gave up pretty quickly and left us to our little corner. Another change in scenery seemed like a good idea. This time Jeff took a little nap in the truck while I walked down to a spot that has treated me well in the past. Fish were present and seemed eager to play, but didn't have much size to them.

Back to where we started since the crowds had left with the falling temperatures. Jeff took up his spot from the morning and picked up where he left off, hooking and landing several. He hooked one really nice fish that didn't want to come in for a picture that will be bugging him for awhile, maybe we'll see him next time. The sky lit up just as the coyotes started howling, making for an amazing scene to finish out the day with the odd fish still coming to hand. A great end to the year in the outdoors with another great year coming up quick.

Hope you're as lucky,