I have a lot of friends who are way into all-things hunting gear and I'm a bit of a gear-freak myself. When it comes to deer season I have a product (or many products) for all aspects of my hunt. Laundry detergent, toothpaste, bowsights, camo everything, coolers, ladders, cameras, saws....I'm hunting with my son this weekend in Wisconsin and it's a little embarrassing how much gear we'll bring for two days of hunting.
Although I'm geared up for this season, I just picked up a pair of must-have boots for anyone who's ever gone to the bar after a deer hunt (that's pretty much everyone!).... Minnesota manufacturer Red Wing/Irish Setter recently introduced the Bar Boot!
These are a stylish and comfortable after-hunt boot with a gum-rubber sole. No slipping for me as I make my way to the bar this season! And with 1" of rubber I can walk in most Wisconsin bars without getting beer on the leather!
Click here for more details on the Bar Boot.
I still remember my first experience with morels....working for Ron Schara we had a steady supply of generous mushroom hunters who would share their spoils.
At RSP we ran the occaisional story which taught me to look for dead elms...so last weekend after a failed attempt to get my wife her first turkey, I turned to mushroom hunting and found my first one. I've been told if you find one you'll find more and that proved to be true...we didn't hunt hard, turkey or morels, and found a total of four.
Flash forwardt to today when I had to return to the same location of our turkey hunt to recover my ground blind. I brought intern extraordinarie, Seth Bartodziej, who had never found his own morels before. I was pretty confident we'd put him on his first morel which happened pretty quickly. We recovered the blind and were on our way out of the woods when I saw a shroom out of the corner of my eye. Seth went in to recover it and found another, and another, and another...and says "you may want to see this...." We discovered the motherload....at least 60 morels and most great sized.
Seth finds Minnesota Gold!
Safe to say, the morel season has created at least two hunting addicts!
Today I hand over the reins of my blog to Edina Senior/Intern Extraordinare, Seth Bartodziej….
At the end of May, Edina seniors have the opportunity to do a two week project or internship on a topic of interest. I wanted to do an internship with a company in the outdoor industry. I met Mitch Petrie, owner of Muddy Boot Outdoors, through a friend of my father. I enjoy watching fishing and hunting shows on TV and wanted to have a behind the scenes look at the outdoor-recreation industry. Two months after laying out my plan I started my May-Term Project as intern for Muddy Boot Outdoors.
One of my projects was to write a blog post on an outdoor experience. Mitch suggested I try out bowfishing and relate the experience in the blog. I know the sport is growing in popularity and have seen videos but have never tried it before. I was up for the adventure.
Carp are an invasive species that reproduce rapidly and if not taken care of will take over a body of water. They cause damage to our native fish species including our state fish, the walleye. Carp eat walleye eggs and cause a huge decrease in population in native game fish. When they forage they disturb sediment at the bottom of the lake that contains pollutants like phosphorous and nitrogen. Once disturbed these pollutants fertilize algae and weeds that negatively affect water quality. We also targeted bowfin (dogfish), though not invasive, they're classifed as a rough fish and can reek havic of fish beds as well. As a bonus, the sport is fun, enjoyed by people of all ages, and easily accessible in Minnesota’s many lakes and streams. How often is it you can have fun while helping the ecosystem of our local lakes, streams, and pond? Some may ask why are you killing them for no reason…it’s clear to me there’s a strong conservation argument to remove carp for lakes and enlisting sportsmen who volunteer for the task makes sense.
Our adventure started at Lake Independence MN, which coincidently is infested with carp and struggles with severe algae blooms each open-water season. When we arrived the conditions were not in our favor. Mitch got a shot off at a monster carp, probably 25 lbs; unfortunately he missed him and by the time I had a shot the carp was long gone. We perched on top of a bridge and scoped out the water for a while. After several unproductive minutes we decided to try a calmer and shallower spot. On our way it started to rain heavier but it didn’t matter as our spirits were high in anticipation of success.
Mitch led the charge down a rain-slicked embankment and through the woods to a creek he had told me about. As we walked Mitch told me the plan and what to expect. I took the lead along the creek in hopes of seeing a trophy swimming in the water. We got about 30 feet down the trail when Mitch spotted the first one. We stopped and tried to get a clear shot at him but never did. The fish spooked and swam upstream and we quickly made chase. We came up to a clearing and Mitch had a plan, there was a bridge about 50 yards up and I was to sneak ahead and post on the bridge. Mitch would walk on the bank and throw rocks and branches to push them towards me. The plan was perfect but unfortunately no carp swam past. Apparently the fish were able to sneak by in a deep channel in the creek.
We decided we should try one last spot a few hundred yards down the creek. As we approached the spot I had the bow in hand and crept down hoping spook any fish that might be near. I spotted a huge carp lying in a grass bed no more than 3 feet away from me. I drew back, but the fish saw me draw and swam away. At this point I was wondering how we were ever going to get one.
We continued to creep downstream where 50 yards later we found the mother lode of carp. There were so many, maybe 50, that I thought if I shot into them I couldn’t miss. Sure enough when I draw back the bow and shot, I missed! Needless to say I was disappointed. We saw a fish off to our left and Mitch took a shot and scored a huge dog fish; it weighed around 10 pounds. We pulled it up on to the shore and snapped this quick picture:
Mitch Petrie with a 10 pound bowfin (dog fish)
I was so excited watching it flop in the grass and when I remembered Mitch was still behind me shooting… As I turned around he had our first carp of the day hooked up. A few seconds later we had two on the shore! Seconds later, I see a big bull headed straight at me and draw back and release…it’s a hit! I couldn’t believe that I finally had one on but didn’t know what to do next. Mitch helped me pull the big boy in and congratulated me on my first carp.
Seth holds up his first carp taken with bow and arrow.
We wasted no time getting back to the shooting spree. At this point we realized the carp were stuck between a dam of trees and a big drain pipe feeding into the creek. As we moved upstream I saw a dogfish. I pulled back and wham, fish on! It was my first dogfish with the bow only seconds after my first carp. But the day wasn’t over… Mitch headed down stream to the dam and I started up top and walked in the water down towards him, hoping to spook a few him. It worked; he shot two before my drive was complete. I waded across the water to a little grass patch that had a back water cove where they were really loaded up. Sure enough I put a shot on a nice one, right in the back and brought on shore. After another half hour, we wrapped up our experience with a total of eight fish; four carp, four dogfish.
Author Seth Bartodziej and his mess of carp & bowfin (dogfish)
An experience like this has me hooked on bowfishing; I can’t wait for my next chance to go again!
For more information on bowfishing, check out the Minnesota DNR website.
The end of August is generally a trying time for me and my wife as parents of three energetic boys. To battle the ennui we packed up the family and headed about 10 miles west of our home and set up camp in Baker Park Campground on Lake Independence. You may have read today's article about the challenges of the water quality on the lake but let me tell you, Baker Park is a first class facility and Lake Independence is a metro body of water worthy of our protection.
I won't bore you with the details of our fantastic weekend...all I can say is if you're considering camping at Baker Park you should call and reserve. They also have a Halloween event called Baker-Boo the weekend of Oct 20-21 which is awesome for the kids.
I want to share one highlight because I'm interested in your stories.... I brought with me my 12" Camp Chef Cast-Iron Skillet that I've had for a couple of years but never used. I recently attended an event where Camp Chef sponsored a cook-off which inspired me to have my own little competition. I cooked up some pheasant sausage over the open fire and made scrambled eggs in my new skillet. I didn't have to season the grill or any of the food...the skillet comes pre-seasoned. I can honestly say I've never enjoyed cooking more than I did making this meal and I don't think I've ever tasted sausage and eggs that were this perfect. I made enough food for our group of five plus the group of four at the site next to ours....they provided the eggs.
Here's a shot of my breakfast masterpiece:
So, what do I need to do to take my outdoor cooking to the next level? I'm interested in hearing about your experiences and suggestions. Please post comments below!
Last weekend marked the second annual North American Shed Hunting Dog Association World Championships held at Oak Ridge Kennels in Northfield, MN. The event drew participants from across the country in its sophomore year and once again attracted Outdoor Channel superstar Tiffany Lakosky, the better half of Lee & Tiffany's The Crush.
I approached Tiffany and was greeted with a big smile and some sloppy kisses. The smile was hers....the sloppy kisses were from her lab Tank.
Tank & Tiffany Lakosky
Tiffany's husband, last year's Junior and Amateur Champion, Lee Lakosky was back in Iowa licking his wounds from a recent fight with a corn planter (he fractured his wrist in 6 places). Have no fear Lee, your wife and mother in-law Linda Profant represented you well!
Tiffany was off with Tank on their first run of the day which gave me a chance to catch up with her mom Linda. You've probably seen Linda begrudgingly on The Crush. She explained to me she avoids the camera and has threatened to withhold food from any camera crew that gets too near her kitchen. She is generally first on the distribution of good-news texts from the field and if you're a fan of Lee & Tiffany, there's frequent texts talking about big bucks down! Linda was pretty reserved and had low expectations about her prospects for victory with 2 year old Kyah. "I was hoping for a top 10 finish and would have been happy if Kyah managed to find all the sheds".
Despite her camera shyness and low expectations Linda was kind enough to let me tag along with her on her first run of the day and what a run it was.
Kyah in Action Finding and Retrieving a Shed Antler
The course is set on a trail that cuts through trees, crosses bean fields and weaves its way through the Northfield countryside. Linda and a judge jogged down the trail behind Kyah as she ran nose to the ground hoping to "find the bone"-- the command Linda used to motivate her partner.
Linda Profant and a Judge Try to Keep Up with Kyah
5 minutes 36 seconds and six sheds later later, Lynda and Kyah had set the fastest time of the day. Lynda was greeted by smiles and high fives from Tiffany at the break between Lynda's first and second run.
Tiffany and Linda Celebrate Linda's Fantastic Run
It didn't end there. Linda went on to win the Junior division and place 4th overall, with Tiffany and Tank taking a respectable 2nd place overall.
Kyah and Linda Profant with their Junior Division 1st Place Trophy
The victory was a pleasant surprise for Tiffany and brought tears to her eyes. "I called Lee and he was hooting and hollering....we couldn't be more proud of my mom!".
One guy who was not surprised was Tom Dokken, owner of Oak Ridge Kennels, Dokken Training Products and founder of the competition.
"This is not a sport just for guys. It's a family event where women, men and kids can be competitive." There are judges-- it's just a man or woman and her dog against the clock."
This year's event drew competitors from across the country including Arizona and Georgia with a strong contingent from the upper Midwest. Regional qualifying events across the country in 2012 should lead to an even bigger and more diverse field in 2012.
Win Mitchell and his Lab Duchess
Northfield's Win Mitchell won both the Novice and Open categories.
Will the Lakosky's be back? "Absolutely!" says Ms. Tiffany. "Well, if they'll have us back" says Linda. Something tells me these first ladies of shed dog hunting will be welcomed back with open arms.
For more info:
on Sundays at 6:30 PM CST on Outdoor Channel
Follow me on Twitter: mjpetrie