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,
Kidder

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,
Kidder