Monday, June 24, 2013

"Loaded for Bear"

This last Thursday my wife and I decided to call it an early weekend and take off to the mountains.  We have been talking about going camping for the last few weeks but we have been busy with family outings, reunions, weddings, and any other family gathering you can think of.  We knew if we didn't take time during the week to go camping we might as well not even try because of how busy our summer is this year.

Our Jeep loaded up next to the reservoir
So Thursday afternoon came and I got off work and hurried home to help get ready. We decided that we were not only going to haul our camper but we were also going to pack our canoe! Between my wife and daughter and I, we had my jeep loaded to the max with anything and everything we may possibly need for a simple over night camp trip. The thought came to my mind when we were pulling out of town, "we're loaded for bear". Meaning that we were ready for anything.  Little did I know how true that saying would later become!
Unloading our gear

We drove up into the mountains to one of our favorite spots to go camping.  Sadly this spot has apparently become quite a few people's favorite spot as well because when we showed up we drove from camp site to camp site looking for a spot we could get some peace and tranquility but we were having a rough time. We drove and drove until we finally found a spot far enough away from the others that we didn't feel like we were camping with strangers.  We were close enough we could still hear their campfire conversations but far enough away to be good enough for a one nighter.


When we finally got to our spot we unhooked the camper and unloaded the jeep. By this time it was already about 830 and I still hadn't had a chance to get some fire wood.  Before we could get everything situated I told my wife that I was going to hurry and drive back down the road we came in on and grab some fire wood.  When getting in my jeep I had the feeling I should take a moment and give her the pistol we had bought her just to be safe... Me being the man I am decided that everything would be fine and I would just be a few minutes... I drove down the road about 2 miles and found a tree that was perfect for fire wood.  Just as I was getting out I had another impression that I should at least load my pistol and strap it on my belt just to be safe... Once again I proved my manliness by convincing myself that I could see the tree I was going to cut up so there was no need to have my pistol.

Our camp before taking off to get fire wood

I cut up the tree into a couple sections and strapped them on top of my jeep.  I hopped in and headed back to camp glad that it had taken me less time than I had thought it would.  Just as I was about 500 yards away from camp I came around a corner into our clearing and spotted a dark colored animal trotting down the road toward my camper.  I slowly stopped my jeep to get a better look at the animal without dodging all the bumps in the road. Just as I stopped my jeep the animal stopped and turned broadside to me and then looked right at me.  As soon as it looked at me I knew exactly what it was... I was now looking directly into the eyes of a juvenile grizzly bear!  This bear was not a full sized bear and was a little on the skinny side which made me a little more nervous than if it was a well fed adult grizzly.
This is not the bear I saw but it is similar to the one I saw only smaller
The first thought that came into my mind when I realized what animal was trotting toward my camp was about my wife and baby girl at camp!  My heart sunk that I didn't leave a gun with her, and I suddenly got super nervous that something bad was going to happen to them... Before I could decide what to do next the bear turned back toward my camp and started running straight toward my camper.  I floored my gas pedal and took off toward the bear honking my horn and yelling out the window, "GET IN THE CAMPER"!  I was praying that my wife and daughter could hear me but knew that I was far enough away they probably couldn't.  I glanced at my speed odometer and saw that I was going almost 60 down a bumper dirt road with a tree strapped to the top of my jeep.  I was slowly gaining on the bear and it was still headed right toward camp.  At this point we were about 200 yards from camp and I was finally getting close enough to it I could tell I was making it uncomfortable it kept looking over his shoulder and glancing back at me as I was honking my horn and yelling.  Just as we got about 100 yards from camp I was within 40 yards of the bear.  The bear suddenly darted off to the left and jumped into the reservoir we were camping next to.  The bear hit the water at full speed and started swimming across.  My mind was still on my wife and daughter so I proceeded driving into camp. Just as I pulled up my wife and daughter were stepping out of the camper wondering what all the noise was.  I told her to get back in the camper and that I was chasing a bear.  I loaded her gun and handed it to her then I loaded mine and got back in my jeep to see if the bear swam all the way across the inlet we were camping next to or if it came back to our side.

Grizzly Paw Print
Front paw print next to my 8' Taurus Pistol
Grizzly Paw Print
Back Paw Print
Grizzly Paw Print
Back Paw Print Close up

As I drove back to the spot the bear jumped in, my heart was racing with adrenaline thinking about what could have happened if the bear had not darted off into the water and ran straight into camp. All of the possible outcomes ran through my head while I was looking for the bear.  About 5 minutes passed and I hear a gun shot and hollering about 3 camp spots down from us.  I assume that the bear had made it that far before someone had seen it and able to scare it off some more.  I returned to camp and made sure my wife and daughter were okay.
Later that night we made lots of noise cutting up fire wood and cooking dinner.  We knew that this area had bears occasionally but we had never had an encounter like this. I could have easily taken a few picture with my phone during my interactions with the bear but with my wife and daughter back at camp, the only thing on my mind was their safety.  We definitely made sure that our dinner was all cleaned up, coolers were in the jeep, and all of our food was put in a safe place before we called it a night.
Camp Chef Cooking Food
Camp Chef Cooking food
I learned two very important lessons through this situation. I learned that when you feel a prompting, no matter how dumb it may seem, be sure to pay attention to it and listen!  The second lesson I learned is that it doesn't matter what I have, what I'm doing, or anything else, my wife and daughter (and their safety) will always be my number one priority! Never again will I leave their side without first making sure they are safe and protected, prepared for anything they may encounter.  I know I have gotten crap about buying a camper and how I have become a softy by not sleeping in a tent, but I am so glad I have that camper for my wife and daughters safety.  I will always make sure to listen to the promptings I have from this point on. The bear may have never made it into my camp if I hadn't had seen it but I am glad to have re-learned these important lessons for life.
Sunset while camping

Friday, June 21, 2013

Upcoming post

Real quick I have to at least give you a preview of my upcoming post... My wife and I decided to go on an overnight camping trip on Thursday night which turned out to be one of our most interesting camping trips... Without going into to much detail I will just share a couple photos and then let you guys all wait until I get some time this weekend to write the full story! Enjoy
Front paw print

Back paw print

Paw print....
I will have to post finished this weekend so check back.... and FYI it is more than just "we saw a bear" or "a bear walked by our camp last night"....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ranger Beads

One common aspect of hunting or hiking is knowing how far you traveled on your trip.  This can be pretty difficult if you don't have a GPS or a set trail you are following.  What I want to talk about is an inexpensive way to track how far you travel without spending a lot of money on a GPS 

One of the guys I coach with was asking me how I kept track of how far I hiked or backpacking trips, hunting, or just on random hikes.  I told him that I honestly didn't know how far I was walking/hiking but I usually used Google Maps to guesstimate how far I hiked after I finished a trip.  He told me that when he was in the military, they used what they called Ranger Beads to keep track of how far they walked when venturing off base.  He had one on his backpack and showed me what it looked like.

Ranger Beads
Ranger Beads
I thought it looked cool but I will admit I had heard of Ranger Beads but I had no idea how to use them or anything.  I will attempt to explain how to use them from his explanation and my one adventure I have tried it out on.

A typical Ranger Bead set consists of 9 beads on the bottom half and five beads on the upper half with a knot separating the two sets of beads.  The confusing part for this concept is that you will be keeping track of the distance you travel in meters rather than feet and miles.  You can however convert the meters or kilometers into miles after you return from you trip if you desire. One thing you will have to do prior to using Ranger Beads is measure how many paces it takes you to walk 100 meters.  What I would suggest is to go to your local high school track and walk exactly 100 meters counting how many steps you take with your right (or left) foot.  By counting the number of steps for just one foot you are able to keep track easier and count less.  The typical "step" for a human is around 2 1/2 feet or .762 meters.  This would equal out to roughly 131 total steps in a 100 meter stretch (around 66 steps per foot).  Knowing how many steps you take in 100 meters is the key to keeping accurate record of the distance you travel using the Ranger Beads.

So as I mentioned, you have 9 beads on the bottom and 5 on  the top. When you begin your hike/trip/adventure be sure that all the beads on the top are pushed all the way to the top of their section and all the beads on the bottom are pushed to the bottom of their section.  At the beginning of your hike the Ranger Beads should look like this.

Ranger Beads
Starting my hike
 As soon as you start hiking be sure to count the number of steps you are taking with your right foot.  For every 66 steps you take with that foot you will move one of the beads on the lower section to the top of it's section on the Ranger Bead signifying that you have walked 100 meters.  So if you walk 500 meters you should have 5 beads slid to the top of the lower section and 4 beads still at the bottom as shown below.
Ranger Beads
Ranger Beads showing 500 meters
After you have walked 900 meters all of the lower beads should be raised as high as they can signifying that you have walked 900 meters.  After walking another 100 meters you will then lower one of the top beads to the bottom of the upper section signifying that you have walked 1000 meter.  At this point you can either lower all of the bottom beads again to repeat the process or some people just reverse the process and just lower one bead at a time as they walk additional 100 meter lengths.  In the picture below, my Ranger Beads are showing that I walked 1300 meters which is the equivalent to .807 miles.  I know that isn't very far but this was a quick hike to try out my Ranger Beads.
Ranger Beads
My Ranger Beads showing I have walked 1300 meters
 I thought this was a simple, yet useful piece of equipment that is extremely light and easy to use. Even if you have a GPS or some other device you use to keep track of the distance you travel on a hike or hunting trip, having a set of Ranger Beads would be a good idea to place in your pack in case your GPS does not get service or runs out of battery life.  The Ranger Bead set that I received from my friend is made out of paracord but you could make them multiple different ways.  There are also a few places you can buy them online that I have found.  I will post a video I found on YouTube which shows how to make the Ranger Beads out of paracord if anyone is interested.
Ranger Beads will be with me on my hunting and hiking trips from this point on.  I don't think I will use them every time but I will use them when I want to know how far I hiked.  Some of the situations I can see myself using them in would be when I go on a hike to get in shape for hunting season or after I spend all day chasing elk or deer and I want to see how far I walked/hiked when I head back to my vehicle.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Training for Hunting

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely HATE running... I really feel bad when people talk about how awesome it is to run a marathon, half marathon, 5K, or any running event because of how rewarding it is.  Coming from me, I cannot comprehend spending money to run any distance no matter what.  At the same time a few of my friends who talk to me about how amazing it is to run cannot comprehend why I would hike for miles up and down rough terrain chasing animals who's 5 senses are ten times better than mine are.  With that said I don't stop anyone from running their fulfilling races, but the last thing I want to do is join them.

The only problem with what I mentioned above is that if I depend on hiking in the mountains for my exercise I am definitely not going to be in good enough shape for hunting season.  At the most right now, I am only able to get out on a real hike maybe once a week... if that... which is not going to get me where I need to be come elk season!  With hunting season right around the corner and my belt line getting tighter and tighter I've decided I need to get busy!  

I've decided to start riding my bike at least 4 times a week and increasing the distance every bike ride.  It may not be as good of a work out as jogging/running, but statistically I am more likely to stick with it if I am doing something I enjoy rather than doings something just for the sake of losing weight or getting in shape.

If anyone has any other suggestions for cardio workouts without buying a gym membership let me know and I'll be sure to give them a shot.