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
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I consider myself a hard-core Minnesotan. I've lived here much of my life; travelled the world telling anyone who would listen how great our state is. I've apologized for snow in May, mosquitos the size of hummingbirds, 100% humidity and our "unique" brand of politics. I truly love MN so forgive me when I say this....Montana is the "Last Great Place".
For the past two years I've been working on a television production based in Montana. Wardens, airs January-June on Outdoor Channel. We follow the daily operations of Montana game wardens. Last week I had a chance to drive across the state filming for our upcoming season. What I encountered would be the envy of anyone who appreciates the outdoor lifestyle. Montana is the Treasure State. Spend a few days there and you'll understand why!
I travelled with my high-school friend Pat Pinske and Minneapolis-based (award winning) videographer, Cy Dodson. We caught the last flight out on a Sunday and three hours later arrived in Missoula. An hour long ride to Hamilton found us at the home of Wardens series creator/producer, Steve Puppe. A mere 1000 miles away from MN but feels like a different planet. I've made this trip five or six times before and one of my favorite memories is to open the door of Steve's truck and smell the mountain-fresh air. His place is surrounded by mountains and sage. I wish I could bottle the smell! When you enter Steve's house your are greeted by 40-50 sets of eyeballs from the trophy mounts that line his walls. Steve had been on the road for the weekend so we were also greeted with 40 degree temps indoors! Nothing a few chunks of oak on the stove wouldn't fix in short order!
After a few short hours of sleep we filmed a series of interviews and re-creations with a couple of Wardens. We needed a location with mountainous terrain so we drove down the road about 5 miles. As we drove back to our base the Wardens in front of us stopped and did a license check on a hunter. Turned out to be a bighorn sheep hunter, Toby Knapp (with Minnesota roots) who had just shot his first ram! With less than 200 rams shot in Montana each year we were pretty lucking to see this one and snap this cool picture.
We learned from Toby about pneumonia that is decimating herds of sheep in Montana killing over 60% of the sheep that show signs of the ailment. He had been hunting for 30 days and was on this ram for 5 when he noticed it was coughing and opted to take a shot. Turned out to be a trophy of a lifetime and not the last bighorn encounter we'd have this week.
The next morning we set off for a 2.5 hour drive to Anaconda. In Montana its best to measure distance by hours. Anaconda is probably less than 80 miles from Hamilton but you have to cross Skalkaho Pass which closes in the winter. It's about 160 miles when you have to go through Missoula. We had just had a dusting of snow so I made the decision to take Pat and Cy on a little adventure through the Bitterroot Mountains. We weren't dissapointed. Even before he hit the mountain road we crossed paths with two ewes and took some cool close up pics. Sadly, one of the two was coughing and would probalby secumb to pneumonia within the next 72 hours.
Shortly after our ewe encounter we passed the barricade and for about 25 miles we chugged along in a Chevy 2500 Diesel with a 4" lift kit following tire tracks from the only other vehicle to dare take the pass that day. My view for the next few hours looked like this:
In fact, it was actually much worse....at many points on the road you could only see the treetops 10' from the road. It was extremely steep and dropped several hundred feet at multiple sections. Near the pass the snow was over a foot deep and had drifted over the tracks we were following. Pat was kind enough to get out and blaze a new trail for us by foot so we could make it though safely. I seriously considered turning back at this point but the trip down the mountain didn't seem any more appealing than charging forward with our adventure. At the peak the snow was over 18" deep and deeper in some areas due to drifting...without the lift kit we would have been toast!
About half way through the trip we stopped at Skalkaho Falls. It's a beautiful waterfall that I saw last summer. It's a popular tourist destination in the summer but only snowmobilers will see it in the winter. Here you can see it side by side!
What seemed like a lifetime but was probably only an hour, we made it to the other side of the mountain range on a gravel road with a posted 70 mph speed limit. Once we hit pavement I stopped and kissed the gound. Seriously, Pat has a picture to prove it. I'm guessing we were one of last vehicles to make it through Skalkaho Pass before it was closed for the season. It was at that point that I decided to never challenge Mother Nature again like we did that day. Every few years in the spring they recover a vehicle and its occupants who didn't survive the adventure (we were told after the fact!). Needless to say on the return trip we stuck to the interstate!
Our choice to cross the pass was rewarded by what waited on the road a few short miles ahead. As we neared Anaconda there was a road sign with a flashing yellow light that read "When light is flashing look for Bighorn Sheep". We all thought it would be pretty cool to see more sheep and as we rounded the corner I yelled at Pat to slow down and watch out for the sheep. He was looking left and right and I screamed "they're in our lane!!". Sure enough four trophy rams were bunched up in our lane. The previous evenings snowfall and pushed them to a lower altitude and they were licking salt off the road. They were a little annoyed with our presence but hung out long enough to let us snap a few pictures.
Once we reached Anaconda we interviewed a vetranarian who had survived a bear attack earlier in the year. Turns out his daughter works in Plymouth, MN. Apparently all roads in Montana lead back to Minnesota!
We continued on to Bozeman for the night and hit a traditional hot spring. I used to think a natural hot spring would pools of water surrounded by mountains and boulders. Turns out many hot springs look more like your local YMCA. The only difference is the water is pumped in daily and cooled down from 160 degrees so you don't get burned. In short, it's like being in a big hot tub that smells like rotton eggs. Strangely, we enjoyed it!
The next morning we rolled on to Billings; Montana's largest city. We filmed a re-creation of an interesting investigation that resulted in multiple arrests. Tune in to Wardens this year for the details. While we were in the FWP district office Warden Kevin Holland recieved word of 2 poached deer that were killed and abandoned in their region. We decided to stake out the area hoping the poachers would return to make an effort to recover the animals. 4 hours between 10 PM and 2 AM didn't produce any action but we had a good time anyway.
The next morning we wrapped up our filming and drove seven hours back to Hamilton. We had our last shoot the next morning in the Missoula Crime Lab where we intereview a firearms examiner and took some great video with the GOPRO shooting bullets from a .40 handgun into a water tank.
So in about 100 hours we logged over 1200 miles and saw some amazing sights in Montana. As much as I love Minnesota I'm thinking someday I'll find my home in Montana. The hardest part will be picking a location! Actually not, if I can convince my wife I think we'll end up in Bozeman!
For more information on Wardens visit Outdoor Channel
For more information on Montana go to Travel Montana
My wife informed me early last week that I needed to reserve Friday for "Date Night". For most guys the term alone is enough to make your skin crawl. But my wife, bless her heart, has adopted my passion for archery and our Friday date night was a trip to the Carver Park 3D archery course!
I bought my wife a bow a few years ago when she expressed interest in shooting. I picked up a Diamond Razer Edge because it would work well for my son too, plus it supports one of my favorite charitable organizations, Kicking Bear. Within a month my son had taken full ownership of the bow so Kristin needed her own....I reached out to my friend Randy Hermann, Owner, Pimp My Bow, and he happened to have a great bow on hand....a Bowtech Equalizer with pink and black accents and a pink/black VaporTrail string. I figured a tricked out bow would look great in her hands and I was right!
Our date started at the stationary range to make sure she was still sighted in. The 20 yard target was a deer with vitals...no scoring ring. After a few warm up shots I told her to shoot for the nose of the deer as we could both see the dark-black circle pretty clearly from 20 yards.
She proceeded to jam an arrow into the deer's nose which pretty much set the tone for our walk around the 3D course.
There are nine different stations at the park and each one has a bow rack/arrow holder, target stand and paper target. Our goal was to get Kristin more comfortable shooting different distances and with targets laid out 10 to 70 yards throughout the course, we had plenty of opportunities. Once she put a good shot on a target we would move to the next....she didn't need many do-overs! I had a pretty good as well but I've spent a lot more time practicing and have been shooting for over 5 years.
We enjoyed a picture-perfect evening and amazing fall weather as we made our way around the course. The 7th station consists of 4 targets at 10-20-35-45 yards shot from an elevated platform about 25 feet off the ground. Coming off of a 70 yard miss from the previous station Kristin was motivated to redeem herself. She stepped up and took a poke at the antelope target 45 yards away. With my binoculars I could see she made a great shot....in the heart!
Kristin closed out the last couple stations with more great shoots. I think she's been practicing without me! We headed over to Lola's Lakehouse in Waconia for dinner on the deck for a more traditional ending to date night. I believe more guys would probably embrace the concept of date night if they were more like these!
About the range....
The range is open April 1–Nov. 15; Elm Creek in Maple Grove has a range that's bigger and is open year-round. It's field tip only expect on one 20 hard target designated for broadheads. Leave the beer and pets at home! There are some great events at both locations including events for youth, seniors and beginners.
For more information visit the Three River's Park website.
I’m a hunting and fishing fanatic and a strong advocate of introducing others to the sport; It’s fashionable these days to promote the introduction of hunting and fishing to youth and women and it’s often said they are the fastest growing segment in the outdoor industry. I don’t doubt this but I’ve never taken the time to review hard data that proves the statement.
Personally I think it’s important to get women and children outdoors mostly for the quality family time it delivers. We recently took our first family Canadian fishing trip. Our destination was a remote fishing camp near Sioux Narrows, Ontario, called Totem Resorts/Wiley Point. We were there for 4 nights and 3 days, caught 100’s of walleye, a dozen smallies and 3 muskies! We had about 24 hours of boat time as a family in a 19’x8’ area….amazing quality time. We took about 150 fantastic pictures to record the experience and came away the picture below which will most likely be our Christmas card this year...
Kristin Petrie's First Muskie - 46" Lake of the Woods - 8/31/11
Women and children are being presented with great opportunties to hunt and fish thanks to the MN DNR and conservation groups. I don't think we should lose sight another important demographic....men age 28-54.
This is a generation who owned BB guns as kids, had hunting and fishing experiences but were distracted by other priorities growing up. This generation isn’t entirely lost as they had parents and grandparents who hunted or fished, they just need to be reminded to get back to the boat or field. Why are they as important as women/youth to the future of our sport? They are the economic engine of the outdoors. Most women and children who hunt and/or fish have very little input in the equipment they're using...it's the husband/father who's driving the purchase. Most women aren't programmed like men to want to buy $1000 shotguns or $400 deer blinds. Perhaps that will change over time but for now the long lines I see at local outdoor retailers are 98% male.
Should we still promote youth and women hunting/fishing initiatives? Absolutely....but do us all a favor and bring back a few guys to our sport as well!