Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vote for Budweiser Conservationist of the Year

Last Chance to Help Lowell Baier Conserve Habitat

For 37 years, Lowell Baier has dedicated himself to wildlife conservation, which made him the ideal candidate to lead a campaign to protect Theodore Roosevelt’s historic Elkhorn Ranch.

Now that the ranch is saved, Baier is working to restore the habitat, and the $50,000 he would win as Budweiser’s Conservationist of the Year has been pledged to restore wildlife habitat on the 23,550-acre ranch in the North Dakota Badlands. Please help Lowell Baier in his mission to conserve what many call the cradle of conservation. As one of four finalists, Baier needs your vote so he can designate his winnings to restore habitat at Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch.
Rob Keck, CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation, urges you to vote for Baier for Budweiser Conservationist of the Year, allowing the $25,000 NWTF contributed to the project to be supplemented by Baier’s prize.

Theodore Roosevelt raised cattle on the Elkhorn Ranch from 1884 to 1887. His observations on this Western frontier led to his belief that America needed a national policy to conserve its precious natural resources. When the largest remaining private remnant of the original ranch was threatened with development for a subdivision, Baier led a 24-month national campaign to purchase the ranch for the federal government and protect it in perpetuity.

The battle to protect the Elkhorn Ranch is over, but the fight to restore the habitat there has just begun. The $50,000 prize Baier is seeking has a significant multiplier effect on future funding to enhance this historic landscape, a rich biological oasis of bird, animal and plant life.
Lowell Baier has undertaken many monumental wildlife conservation challenges benefiting the nation by:

• Protecting of the National Collection of Heads and Horns, the largest single group of DNA specimens ever assembled of horned ungulates
• Founding the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep with 19 other charter members
• Playing a principal role in establishing a post-graduate wildlife program at the University of Montana
• Drafting President G.H.W. Bush’s wildlife conservation agenda
• Serving as a delegate to the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation
• Serving as a member of the USDA Forest Service Centennial Steering Committee
• Establishing the National Conservation Leadership Institute, a war college atmosphere to train mid-career state and federal wildlife managers

You can further the historic conservation legacy of Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch by voting for Lowell Baier today. The competition is highly competitive; one vote can make a difference. Please go today to for instructions on how to vote for Baier.
So cast your vote today. See instructions to vote below.

1. Go to Budweiser and enter your birthdate.
2. Click on the "Sports & Outdoors" scrolling graphic.
3. The next page will look like the inside of a stadium. Click on the "Outdoors" button in the top right corner.
4. Click on the "Vote for Conservationist of the Year" link.
5. Click on the picture of Lowell Baier (second picture from the left), then click on "Place my Vote for Lowell E. Baier."
To vote by mail, send a 3 x 5 inch card with your Name, Address, Age and the name of the candidate you're voting for to:
2008 Conservationist of the Year
P.O. Box 750311
El Paso, TX 88575
Or request a mail-in ballot from Boone & Crockett Club.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What They're Eatin' at Canoga Creek Farms II

This year, fellow Grouser Joshua and his family joined the festivities at Canoga Creek, along with Ros and Gail Parks. Gobble Gobble.

The Third Canoga Creek Thanksgiving

22 November 2007

Cocktails at Five O’clock

First Course Hors D’oeuvres

Pheasant in a Bramble

Petite Duck a l’Orange

Asiago and Venison Stacks

Pate de Canard et de Fois Gras

Skewers of Barded Grouse

Cherry Goose

Wine -Merryvale Carneros Chardonnay Reserve (2002)

Second Course- Soup

Woodcock, Minnesota Wild Rice, and

Mushroom Soup

Crostini with La Buelle de Causses and

Fig Jam

Third/ Main Course

Grilled Wild Turkey Breast with

Horseradish Hollandaise

Farm Fresh Turkey Stuffed and Roasted,


Creamed Ginger Garlic Butternut


Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Parsley

Green Bean Casserole

Apple, Sage and Mushroom Stuffing

Corn Bread and/or Zucchini Bread

Wine -Serenity Pinot Noir, Central Coast (2005)

-Solena Pinot Noir Grande Cuvee, Willamette Valley (2006)

Fourth Course

Cranberry Parks Glace

Wine -Dry Creek Vinyard Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County (2004)

Fifth Course

Salad of Wild Greens

Sixth Course-Selection of Imported Cheeses

Stilton (England)

Parrano Robusto (Spain)

Parmesan Reggiano (Italy)

St. Andre (France)

Muenster (France)

Seventh Course

Homemade Apple Pie

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Eighth Course-Digestif

Xocolatl Nativo Amb Pebre


La Gloria Cubana Maduro Cigar

Wine -Porto Moreira (1997)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Opening Day 2007

Well, I wish I would have seen some antlers in the neighborhood, but it appears that the boys at BC camp cleaned 'em out! Congrats to Jim, Kevin, & Ernie.

My hunt was interesting, though not in the buck department. At about 8:30 am I heard footsteps over my right shoulder and watched out of the corner of my eye as a coyote trotted right through my shooting lane at about 70 yards. Clicked on the red dot, moved the safety, raised the gun...bang. Dead coyote. The picture below is dedicated to the Cabin Wear fans among us. Actually, it was taken the next morning after church as I was getting ready to take my prize to the taxidermist.

I spent the rest of the Opening Day morning hoping for deer, but saw nothing. Moved around a bit, tried a new stand when the corn cutting in adjacent fields began. Nothing. Finally, with only two hours until dark, I decided to move out of the gully and high-tail it to the lake, to hunt the clover stand by the marsh. No sooner had I climbed into the stand and took my look around when I saw movement at the south end of the field. Out trotted a little flat top, nervous as hell, twitching the tail and looking about anxiously.

The deer obviously wanted to cross the field and get the heck out of the state land, and so it headed more or less on a bee-line straight for me, stopping for nervous mouthfuls of clover along the way. At about 60 yards, the deer winded me and stopped short, facing me almost directly. I briefly studied the shot and the needed angle while turning on the red dot and flipping the safety. As the deer's ear twitched I raised the gun, found my predetermined spot on the deer's chest...bang. The deer cartwheeled and lay still. Upon closer inspection, the bullet shattered the front right shoulder as it slashed through both lungs and exploded the heart, angling slightly down ward and towards the left rear quarter, almost exiting mid-ribcage on the deer's left side. I smiled...textbook. Yippee ki yay.

Looked at the watch; a little more than hour to go. Might as well get back in to the stand for the last hour. As I climbed up, looking at the deer laying in the clover, I noticed motion back towards the state land. A flash of white. Binos up. After a brief scan, I found that the white was attached to a bushy red tail. Fox! He was coming right at me, apparently winding the fresh blood of the recently deceased. He almost reached the deer, and then moved to my right, obscured by a veil of grape and Virginia Creeper vines. I could see him mousing, apparently not interested in the deer. He was drifting further west, soon out of range. I thought I might as well give it a whirl. He was emerging in a kind of opening in the thick brush. Red dot click, safety click, gun up. Through the scope I realize that this is a VERY tough shot... small back of the head target all that presents... moving , mousing no less. Deep breath, let off half. Bang. The fox jumped straight up and whirled at the report, but then made serious haste back to the lands owned by the People of New York. Damn, I muffed my shot at a trifecta. But, wow, what a day afield.

Keep the stories coming boys!!

Openig Day 2007

Opening day found myself, my son Kevin and my buddy Big Jim hunting the home farm of BC Hunt Club. The night before, as we prepared for the mornings hunt, we laid out our plan for where each of us was to hunt. Jim was to go to the prestigious high in the sky stand that has been known to bag a minimum of at least one deer a year since it was first erected. Kevin was to go to the tree stand, that was midway down the East hedgerow, that I bagged a buck out of last year and Brent bagged a beautiful, but not yet mature, red oak tree. I was to go to the ladder stand about 100 yards to the west of Jim where there was a "deer road" blazed through the woods. I can see both Jim and Kevin from my perch on what has to be the shakiest of all ladder stands made to date. I probably paid way to much for it, $20.00 used from a "friend", but it was at least positioned against a nice shady aspen tree that provided adequate cover. At about 7:30, while wrestling with my balance, I looked over and noticed Jim raising his gun to the point. Seconds later I heard his first shot ring out, to be followed by a second, then a third. There was a calm for a few seconds and then a forth shot rang out. I paused for a couple of minutes and then with great delight found my way to the ground from that rickety stand. All of us have our "talkie walkies", as Jim calls them, so by the time I set foot on stable ground I hear Jim whispering into his "I got a big buck down here". Jim thinks he has his talkie walkie on but in all the excitement he didn't get it properly powered up. I am close enough though that I can still hear every work he uttered. Again I hear him say " Hernie I got a big buck down over here, come here" and again I hear him though the morning air rather than on my radio. Now I am already on the way to my buddies aid when I hear a blood-curdling scream call out, "Hernie I got one!!" So much for the early morning silence. Jim stayed in his stand and directed to where his prize had fallen in the golden rod and sure enough there laid a fair sized 8 point buck. The deer was about 1 1/2 years old so it will be excellent table fare. We went back to the hunt and about 1/2 hour later another single shot rang out. Seconds later a voice came over the Talkie Walkie that simply said "Buck down." Kevin had bagged his four pointer with a single shot to the lower neck area. Again I was summoned to track the creature while he directed me to the kill and I again marked the spot where the fallen deer lay. This deer is another 1 1/2 year old buck that looked to be a brother to the first; both will make excellent eating. Back to the hunt we went for another hour or so with me walking the hedge rows and corn field to try to spook new game out. I for one was proud to be the host to their hunting episode and will enjoy sharing a plate full of young tender venison with them on Friday when we carve up the carcass and fire up the grill. The story has several other features that can only be described in accurate detail by Big Jim so if you want to hear the details of this, as well as the afternoon hunt, feel free to drop by Beer Camp over the Thanksgiving weekend and Jim will be glad to share all of the details with you. Needless to say Saturday, Sunday and even Monday were all days that both he and I will never forget! See ya around the campfire!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Birthday Steelies

Still trying to collect myself after reading Keith's tribute to Fi. Been a while since I've perused the GROUSERS blog.

Bird hunting has been nearly non-exist for me this year. Teaching a class for the first time and it's really kicking my butt. I think I've logged about 6 or 7 hours total, and bagged 1 woodcock. Very disappointing and quite pathetic!

But, my dad turned 65 this year and I treated him to a day on the Manistee River fishing for Steelhead. Although it was cold and snowing at times, we both had a great day. Dad caught 2 steelies (1 over 10 lbs) and a nice lake run brown; and I landed 3 nice steelies (1 over 10 lbs). Dad will be talking about that trip for years!

So, who's in for planning a South Dakota pheasant hunt for 2008?!!

Anyway, hope all of you have an enjoyable Thanksgving!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Congrats are in order!

You know 'em, you love 'em, you've hunted their land. A round of applause for the Thompsons and their Canoga Springs Farm, recent recipients of the 2007 Cayuga Lake Friendly Farms Award!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ouch!! That must have hurt!

Can you imagine the hunters surprise when this beast walked out? What about the deer that he didn't see? Look at the length of the drop tine. This is one monster deer that won the battle but lost the war.
Anyone care to take a guess at what this monster dressed out at? Nice pictures it still looks like the deer has his head angled in pain from having the antler in it's eye socket.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Parting Shot- RIP Fiona Queen of Canoga

I went out to the summer kitchen this morning t0 prepare for a morning duck hunt and to meet X-man. Fiona had died in the night, peacefully, in her bed. She had been declining all week and last night I just had a feeling I might not see her alive again. She had a hard time getting up the stairs, so I picked her up and tucked her in. We hung out for about an hour, me snuggling her, her licking me. I left her at about midnight, resting comfortably, having watched me clean the gun, pack the blind bag, blow the duck call, like so, so many other times. Unlike so many other early mornings, though, she was not there wagging her tail as I opened the door in the pre-dawn darkness. She lay still.

Rich asked if we were still on, sympathetic to the situation. But we quickly agreed that the best and most appropriate thing to be done was to go duck hunting, and to bring Fiona with us, one last time. I brought Fiona down to Double Black in a sled, with a bottle of Armagnac, a favorite photo of Fi, an old wooden decoy that she favored as a pup, and some daffodil bulbs. Mike O' joined the hunt. Fiona was placed gently in her favorite spot, just to the right of Double Black blind, at the waters edge. We commenced hunting, though sobered by the loss of our pal. There were birds, and we called at them as enthusiastically as possible. We reminisced. Dog stories, hunting stories, family stories.

Moira joined the hunt at around 9 am. By then we had scratched down a pair of Mergs. We drank coffee, and a black duck approached from the North. With a little coaxing, it made the decoys and fell to my gun. McPhee made a classic long retrieve, with me paddling the canoe as an escort. It was a stunning fall morning, blue skies, very light winds, all of us soaking in the layered meanings of this autumn funeral, from different yet similar vantage points.

Another pair of black ducks approached from the north. Rich made a very nice shot on the left to right flier and dumped the bird, and I hit it on the water as it appeared to still have life in it. It did indeed still have life and somehow managed to barely evade Mcphee, who was working for retrieve number four for the day. The duck miraculously made land and gave Mcphee and Rich the slip. More on that later.

As the morning gave way to the warmth of the sun and the approach of noon, I reluctantly decided it was time to take Fiona to her final resting place. I dug her grave in the short grass, under a tree, near Double Black, with a good view to the lake. I laid her to rest, still confused about my emotions, distracted by my lack of real connection to it all; perhaps even frustrated that my grieving was not occurring in an orderly way. I should have hunted with her Wednesday... I should have stayed with her last night until the end. She should be with me now, and not in this hole.

I placed the wooden decoy between her front paws, and the expended shells from the morning's memorial hunt. Moira placed the daffodil bulbs with care. Mike O' and Rich stood by reverently, all of us in waders and waterfowling apparel. The first few shovels of soil were difficult...ashes to ashes, dust to dust-- the marsh is sure a moist place for dust. Still feeling disconnected, but managing, the task was complete. I felt a little emotion in my voice as I said "Good girl Fi, Goodbye..."

Mike O', Rich and I gave Fiona a proper 21 gun (almost) salute. It was a truly perfect fall day, and the three volleys echoed throughout the marsh. I vaguely noticed that McPhee was missing. He came through the marsh grass and walked straight over to Fiona's grave, sniffing intently and pausing over where her head lay, under the moist soils of the marsh , facing east. I had come to terms with the end of my long friendship with Fiona, but did not feel closure. And then, I heard a mirthful laugh, a happy sound from Double Black. It was happy and it was relief. Rich was exclaiming in amazement, because there, laying in Double Black, was the originally lost Black duck.

I knew immediately what that sound meant, and I breathed only "..yes." Finally, I connected with it all. I laughed and sobbed all at once. My Fiona is gone, and yet, things are as they should be.

We don't know whether when Mcphee visited Fiona's fresh grave, he learned from her the location of that Black duck, or that he told her in ways only dogs understand that all was well at Double Black, and that all ducks were accounted for. But the Red God's told us all that Fiona was resting peacefully, cradled in Canoga Marsh, and that things would continue, as they should be.

Rest in Peace, Fiona Queen of Canoga

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Drop Tine

That is a great deer George took on Sunday. It inspired me to stop chasing the ducks that are not here and get back to the tree stand. Monday after work I helped Keith with some posting and then was planning on a bow hunt. However, we finished a little late and I was leaning toward just going home when Keith said, "you know, it only takes a minute for the deer to walk by and your whole season can change." Anyway he talked me into it. I hit the stand at 5pm; sunset was at about 6:10pm. It would be a short hunt, and it was almost over, when this nice buck with two drop tines came down the hedgerow. He was scaping and rubbing trees and looking for some lovin. Unfortunately for him he walked in bow range of me and it was all over. He ran less than 50 yds and went down. A great hunt.

See you in the blind,