Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hunting the Backcountry

Why and how to hunt the backcountryBy Wil AskewFishing and Hunting News staff — August 20, 2004
Bending down to lift my pack, I could definitely feel the wear and tear of seven straight days in the wilderness.
Sore muscles, blistered feet and a sticky coating of sweat seemed to cover every inch of my body.
We were here by choice, though.
After years of hunting accessible lands that posed no difficulty for the average hunter, we had decided to head in a little further.
I hoisted the pack, scanned the area and then began the long walk out to the trailhead, a mere 6 miles off. Success was with us too: my partner and I were packing out our second elk.
As the hindquarter of the elk weighed heavy on my shoulders, I knew we had made the right decision to hunt deep in the backcountry.
I'd been fortunate enough to bag an elk on the first day of the hunt, and my partner had just sent an arrow to its mark two hours earlier.

Where to hunt
It started a few years earlier on a finger ridge perched high in the Pacific Northwest's Blue Mountains.
At sunrise, I gave a long locating bugle and got a response from a receptive bull.
Feverishly working our way towards the bugling bull, we cut the distance to a hundred yards.
Instantly everything came alive as the herd bull finally broke the morning air with a spine-tingling scream.
Peeking through a small opening I could see a handful of cows and a decent raghorn.
The wind shifted slightly and the herd started to move deeper in the "hole" that lay below us.
I looked over at my hunting companion, Steve Scott of Medford, Ore., and without saying a word we picked our gear and jogged toward the sounds of the breaking brush.
We made our way down the center of the finger ridge.
A few hundred yards later we broke into an opening and that was when it all became crystal clear: After many years of chasing bulls we realized we had been hunting the wrong areas.
It was like someone had just pulled a great curtain back and all the secrets of elk hunting lay before us.
We were standing in elk heaven! We had bulls to left and bulls to the right, bulls below us and bulls behind us.
We worked four different bulls that morning and finally sat down by a stream around noon to grab some lunch before making the long trek back up the hill.
It would take us a solid two hours of climbing up a vertical ridge without stopping to reach the truck.
As our quads burned from the climb, we made up our minds to get the gear we needed to be able to stay comfortably in the wilderness, and experience this type of elk hunting every day.
This is the only way we hunt for elk now, and many elk have fallen since that day. Just like the two mentioned above.
Getting away from roads and people will boost your odds of harvesting an animal with your bow or gun.
I can honestly say that every year we venture into the backcountry, we have an opportunity to harvest at least a cow almost every day.
Most people are not willing to venture too far away from their comfort zone and will not walk more than a mile from their vehicle.
Many times when you commit to venturing into the great unknown, count on at least a 12-mile jaunt.
It sounds crazy until you experience the sights and sounds of being in elk everyday.
Having a mature bull come to your calls rather than turn away at the sound will get your blood pumping, and this kind of excitement will push you further than expected.
Below are few items that have really turned my hunting around.
With these things, I can hunt long into the day while most other guys head back to camp.
Whoever said that hunting is the best in the morning and the evening never hunted the backcountry.
The hunting is good all day!
A good frame pack should be first on your list. Find one that fits your body.
Look for a snug waist belt that helps manage a heavy load, and comfortable straps to rest on your shoulders.
Personally, I like the moose type bag that I can fit an elk quarter into. These attach easily with some pins and can be rinsed out easily.
Alaska game bags are a must have. They're light, compact and don't take up much room.
Hunting with a buddy is a good idea. You can carry two game bags and your partner can carry two.
Carry a good knife and a stone. No reason for carrying three knives and a multi-tool, which may add unneeded weight.
A hydration pack and a water filter can save weight too. Be sure never to drink from a stream no matter how clean it may look.
Unless I'm dying of thirst, I'll use a filter.
If you do plan on drinking from a stream, Imodium AD is very lightweight and there are plenty of leaves to help clean up.
A Therm-a-Rest self-inflating pad has been the best investment I've made for backcountry elk hunting.
It not only makes for a softer bed, but also keeps in much-needed body heat.
Another necessity is a quality sleeping bag. Look for something lightweight, 3 to 4 pounds.
A good mummy bag with a built-in hood is like a condominium in the wilderness. A good stocking cap will conserve body heat at night too.
A good windproof lighter can greatly increase your odds of making a fire.
Matches are good, but once they get wet, you're gambling with your ability to survive.
I do carry a small pack of matches that I wrap in a Ziploc bag. A fire serves a dual purpose, warmth and security.
Cooking can be done easily with a small butane stove that lights easily and can boil a quart of water within a few minutes.
When hunting with a friend, one should carry the stove and the other a lantern that is also compatible with the fuel container.
A small water pot that will hold about a cup and a half of water is all the dishes I carry.
I can boil water for coffee singles and freeze-dried meals.
The meals are not the tastiest, but between those and MREs (Meal Ready to Eat), that's about all you need.
No canned good — too heavy.
Pack hunting
Hunting with camp on your back will keep you mobile and in the hunt if done correctly.
Don't overdo it, however. Too much weight will ruin your hunt and make for a miserable time.
Find out what you can sacrifice to be comfortable and prepared. Granted, I know guys who are more serious than me.
They count the ounces of what goes into their packs, and I don't blame them.
The first time I ventured into the wilderness to hunt from my pack, I was so overloaded I stopped and stripped it down to the bare minimum.
A well-equipped pack should weigh about 40 to 50 pounds. This will hold you over for two to three days.
Remember, when you're loading your pack to head into the woods, you only want it heavy on the trip out.
The main benefit of backpack hunting in the wilderness is that you don't have to hike in and out every day.
We get ourselves into a great area, move off a few hundred yards and settle down for the night and then in the morning, we are right in the middle of all the action.
Backcountry hunting is definitely not for every one, but for those who have thought about it, give it a try.
It's a true hunting experience you'll never forget.

Another example of leftist hypocrisy

Soft money, hard sell
So far, John Kerry has been the direct beneficiary of an estimated $60 million worth of "independent" TV ads, many of which viciously attack President Bush. Ostensibly independent — though clearly Democratic-oriented — 527 political organizations, such as MoveOn.org and the Media Fund, have been financing TV ads and other political activities with unlimited soft-money contributions, which the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation prohibited national political party committees from receiving after the 2002 election.
Following the Super Tuesday primaries on March 2, Mr. Kerry embarked on a fund-raising juggernaut that has effectively matched the Bush-Cheney totals, which were once believed to be unapproachable. Indeed, through July, Mr. Kerry's campaign has raised $234 million compared to Mr. Bush's $242 million. Meanwhile, throughout this period, Democratic 527 organizations, so-named for the IRS section that governs them, have been saturating the airwaves and cable channels, supplementing Mr. Kerry's own bulging campaign coffers. Democratic 527s have overwhelmed their Republican counterparts, effectively permitting Mr. Kerry to monopolize this McCain-Feingold soft-money loophole. The relatively tiny effort by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth proves the point, which the New York Times completely missed in its Page 1 story on Friday. Instead, the NYT was upset over the fact that the veterans received $225,000 of its initial $500,000 stake from two Texans. The amounts were $200,000 from real estate executive Bob Perry, whom the NYT identified as "the top donor to Republicans in the state," and $25,000 from Harlan Crow, "the seventh-largest donor to Republicans" in Texas. By the standards established by Democratic 527 donors, Mr. Perry would be a piker, while Mr. Crow's contribution would not even qualify as a rounding error. In fact, based on data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, 21 of the 22 individuals who have contributed at least $500,000 to 527s have donated a cumulative $56.7 million to Democratic-oriented groups. These include Peter Lewis ($14 million), George Soros ($12.6 million) and Steven Bing ($8.1 million). The sole exception among the 22 is Carl Lindner, who has donated $1.02 million to Republican-oriented 527s. Mr. Perry also was identified as an "associate" of Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political aide. With Mr. Rove having worked for numerous Texas politicians, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, an association between a Texas political strategist (Mr. Rove) and the leading Texas political contributor should hardly be surprising. The NYT sought to buttress what it called "a web of connections" linking Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush family by noting that Texas lawyer John O'Neill, a founding member of the group, had a law partner who once served as general counsel to Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas. Making matters even more sinister, in the eyes of the New York Times, is the additional fact that then-Gov. Bush appointed the wife of another O'Neill law partner as a judge on the state court of appeals. None of this, of course, in any way demonstrates an illegal conspiracy between the veterans group and the Bush campaign. If Mr. Kerry is really looking for a smoking gun, he ought to examine the Media Fund (total receipts: $27.2 million), which is run by former Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, and America Coming Together (total receipts: $26.9 million). The chief spokesman for both of these Democratic 527s is Jim Jordan, who happens to be Mr. Kerry's former campaign manager. Not surprising, a separate article appearing in Friday's New York Times regarding Federal Elections regulation of 527s mentioned Mr. Jordan in his capacity as spokesman for the Media Fund and ACT, but neglected to mention his Kerry connection.

Vietnam Boomerang

Wall Street Journal August 24, 2004
Vietnam BoomerangJohn Kerry's "war crimes" libel returns to haunt him.Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:01 a.m.
The issue here, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active on duty in Alabama at the times he was supposed to be. . . . Just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question.
--John Kerry, questioning President Bush'smilitary-service record, February 8, 2004.
A good rule in politics is that anyone who picks a fight ought to be prepared to finish it. But having first questioned Mr. Bush's war service, and then made Vietnam the core of his own campaign for President, Mr. Kerry now cries No mas! because other Vietnam vets are assailing his behavior before and after that war. And, by the way, Mr. Bush is supposedly honor bound to repudiate them.
We've tried to avoid the medals-and-ribbons fight ourselves, except to warn Mr. Kerry that he was courting precisely such scrutiny ("Kerry's Medals Strategy," February 9). But now that the Senator is demanding that the Federal Election Commission stifle his opponents' free speech, this one is too rich to ignore.

What did Mr. Kerry expect, anyway? That claiming to be a hero himself while accusing other veterans of "war crimes"--as he did back in 1971 and has refused to take back ever since--would somehow go unanswered? That when he raised the subject of one of America's most contentious modern events, no one would meet him at the barricades? Mr. Kerry brought the whole thing up; why is it Mr. Bush's obligation now to shut it down?
Simply because some rich Bush-backers are funding Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is hardly an adequate answer. Some rich Kerry-backers are spending far more to attack Mr. Bush's record, and the Senator was only too happy to slipstream behind Michael Moore's smear that Mr. Bush was a Vietnam-era "deserter."
In any case, anyone who spends five minutes reading the Swift Boat Veterans' book ("Unfit for Command") will quickly realize that their attack has nothing to do with Mr. Bush. This is all about Mr. Kerry and what the veterans believe was his blood libel against their service when he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the spring of 1971 that all American soldiers had committed war crimes as a matter of official policy. "Crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" were among his incendiary words.
Mr. Kerry has never offered proof of those charges, yet he has never retracted them either. At his recent coronation in Boston he managed the oxymoronic feat of celebrating both his own war-fighting valor and his antiwar activities when he returned home. This is why the Swifties are so incensed, and this is why no less than World War II veteran Bob Dole joined the fray on the weekend to ask that Mr. Kerry apologize for his unproven accusations.
As Bill Lannom of Grinnell, Iowa, one of the Swifties, told the Washington Post last week: "He's telling untruths about us and his character. He's talking about atrocities that didn't happen. And then he's using that same experience to promote himself. He can't have it both ways."
We don't pretend to know the truth about how Mr. Kerry won his medals. There's no doubt that he pulled Jim Rassmann from the water (as Mr. Rassmann described recently in The Wall Street Journal), and that he put himself in harm's way and deserves respect for it. There's also little doubt that he has exaggerated some of his exploits--especially that Christmas in Cambodia sojourn we now know never happened--even to the strange extent of restaging events while in Vietnam so he could film them for political posterity. Modesty is not one of his virtues, in contrast to Mr. Dole and other modern veteran candidates (George McGovern, George H.W. Bush) who did not flaunt their noble service. But whatever doubts still exist could probably be put to rest if Mr. Kerry simply released all of his service records.

The "war crimes" canard isn't so easily handled, however. It relates directly to our current effort in Iraq, where U.S. constancy is as much an issue now as it was in Vietnam. Mr. Kerry's denunciation of the U.S. at that time presaged a career in which he has always been quick to attack the moral and military purposes of American policy--in Central America, against the Soviet Union, and of course during the current Iraq War that he initially voted for. It's certainly fair to wonder if Mr. Kerry will have the fortitude to fight to victory in Iraq if he does win in November. Or will he call for retreat the way he and so many other liberals did when Vietnam became difficult?
The irony here is that a main reason Mr. Kerry has focused so much on Vietnam is to avoid debating Iraq and the rest of his long record in the Senate. He wants Americans to believe that a four-month wartime biography is credential enough to be commander-in-chief. But a candidate who runs on biography can't merely pick the months of his life that he likes--any more than a candidate who makes Vietnam the heart of his campaign can confine the resulting debate to his personal home video.
Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Being rather new at this, I inadvertently posted what I meant to be a second entry to my new blog as a comment instead. In addition, somehow I managed to duplicate what I was inserting in the same comment. Bear with me as I learn about this and hopefully it will improve.


Hi! I am DocHunter. Family physician. Avid hunter. Christian. Father of four. Husband. Conservationist. Defender of personal freedom (especially the bedrock of freedom - The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.) Believer in individual initiative, responsibility and accountability. I have an intense interest in politics and history. I love college basketball (especially University of Kentucky.) I love having enough knowledge to read between the lines of mainstream media reports to reveal the demagoguery and hypocrisy of the left of the political spectrum.
Join me with your thoughts.