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08/19/2017 @ 09:16 PM

A Return to Ragged Mountain

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After a near disaster trip to Colorado elk hunting without me in 2011, Molly, my mare made a return trip with me this year. She seemed none the worse for wear, and though rarely ridden in the year ensuing, was quite bidable. The kick in the chops she gave me while I got her ready for the vet had healed, and been forgiven.

This would be a new era for the Sperry Ranch elk hunt crew. Our long standing chief of operations and guiding, Mr. Jim Scott was developing visual problems, and opted not to go. I had never been there without him, and somehow, it didn't feel right. A goodly crew of returners, including Mel, Tom, Darwin, The Kluss boys, Mitch, Dean, and Willie, Mr Bill Johnson, and Eric the new man made a rather smaller crew than usual. No lack of experience here, but no clear leader of the pack. We would decide goings on by committee, trying to decide WWMSD (what would Mr. Scott do?)

Darwin and I, with Molly and Sonny in tow, lit out early on Thurs. morning. The trip to Fr. Collins to overnight with Darwin's family, was punctuated with 2 Cabela's visits, though not many purchases. We had a very fine accomodation for the horses as well as a fine welcome from the Colorado Snooks. I only wish I was half the hunter Christopher thinks I am.

Day 2's trip was highlighted by having an overheated motor at the Eisenhower tunnel. Many thanks to the local GM dealer for promptly and courteously replacing the fan clutch. Never mind that it was pricey compared to local service. We ascended the McClure pass without any of the frequently falling rocks there displaying themselves for us. The last to arrive, we had plenty of help getting tack, gear, and ourselves settled. The everning's meeting to decide strategy seemed to be without a keel, but we managed to decide what to do. Since we were short, places like the flat rock, and volkswagen rock were stands we left out. No one minded, in that they were always the last to get sun, and notoriously cold. Besides, you just had to cover the most reliable stands, the putting green, pole pile, ant hill, Jim's spruce, and a few more.

Morning brought another great mountain breakfast, and we assembled our mounts in the dark. Seemed chill to me, so I included my rain gear, tied securelly behind the saddle. We heard only the creak of saddle leather, and an occasional bugle as we rode out in the darkness. Once settled, with light approaching, it became evident that I'd better leave my stand and retrieve my rain gear. Having done so, I spent 4 hours watching the mist turn to snowflakes, then a steady snow fall. I didn't see an elk. Our lunch meeting showed me that no one else had either. A few hours into the afternoon we were all cold, and those who hadn't carried their rain gear were wet also. Back to the ranch for warmth and dry seemed to be the consensus. Elk weren't moving, and we would rally to hunt another day. Day 2 we made a mistake as well. Anxious to put some elk in the meat shed, we rode out with fog in the distance. As we ascended it became increasingly thick, and though we knew we pushed several elk off Round hill, we only saw a few and shot only one. After field dressing it, we began to notice clearing, and wondered "what if" we'd not been impatient and could have actually seen more than 50 yards. Afternoon brought little in the way of action, so a halt was called to our organized hunt. Darwin asked me if I would like to see the new path to our favorite spot, "the putting green" where we have combined for half dozen bulls in the past. I agreed and we pushed our flatland horses hard to achieve the top. Once there, I suggested we sit the stand for a while, since the weather was now pleasant, and we were close. Old buddies, we, we found a couple of oakies, tied our horses, and basked in the sunshine, while hearing enough bugles to keep us interested and from nodding off to naps. Just as I wondered if Dar would suggest we leave before sun set, out walked a really nice bull. "kill him Darwin" whispered I, and drop him he did. We got pictures, swiftly as two guys can field dress a 500 pound critter, did so, and mounted for a ride in in the dark. Both horses had been there before so we pretty much basked in our glory, retold the story and how we'd tell it, and let the horses take us off the mountain. Displaying bloodied hands to our campmates gathered waiting for us was indeed a pround moment.

Monday brought relaxed hunting. On the board and with beautiful weather,. We had some luck, and managed to hang a second of our three allowed cow elk. We also had a near miss on what was termed by those who saw him as a really big bull. Maybe tomorrow we'd get him. We chose to alot stands by who'd not killed an elk in the longest, and I was allowed a return trip to the pole pile while we worked Round Hill. This time we were in luck and the hillside became alive with elk. A couple I saw were big white ones, a probable sign of a mature bull. Binoculars confirmed that, and though it took 3 rounds, I put one of them on the ground. Tom had collected our 3rd cow. This gave us 5 of 9, way above average for the state, but shy of our usual success.

The rest of the day, we labored to get the guys with open tags in range of an elk, and even extended it into the morning on Wed. Not to be, we broke camp, reveled in the nice weather we'd finally had, the absence of any injuries ( a fact we do not take lightly any more), and the opportunity we'd had to join with each other, the mountain, and the game. As satiated as hunters get, and with next year already in mind we took off for Iowa. A call to afore mentioned Mr. Scott allowed him to add his thoghts as we discussed out first effort without him. Memories of Don, Max, Eugene and other old campmates, as well as the recent success kept Darwin and me awake as we crossed the area homeward. We'd been in the land of the Chevy commercial "no Service" cell phones for a week, going at horseback pace instead of call waiting, email, text messages, and road rage speed limits. It felt good, and will need frequent repeats.

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Snowshoe Building Course Offered

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This fall/winter Linn County Conservation will again offer the opportunity to build a pair of traditional snowshoes. Conservation Education Specialist Chuck Ungs will guide participants through the snowshoe-building process. Those who have taken the class in the past have been very pleased with the finished shoes and have enjoyed the class. These sets would make a unique gift, functional tools or can be used as a grand decoration.

Participants should plan to attend the evening sessions on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 11, & 18. These evening classes will run from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Wickiup Hill Learning Center near Toddville, IA. With some time invested at home, kits can be completed around New Year’s. Additional evenings will be needed to varnish the shoes in the evenings at the Conservation Department shop near our headquarters in the week following construction, between the Holidays. For best results, two or three of these evenings will be required to varnish the shoes properly.

Participants must pre-register and pay by November 29, so we can order kits. The $185 class fee includes the cost of a snowshoe kit, a binding set and varnish for each participant. To pre-register or for more details and options, call 319-892-6485. Attendance at all three lacing sessions is highly recommended. Kit building typically requires the manual dexterity of someone high school age or older. Class size is limited to 15.

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Over the last several months the popularity of the General Banter Forum has grown exponentially, which is great but in order to keep the integrity of the site of being an Outdoor Related website and to keep the homepage full of outdoor related posts rather than a bunch of General Banter Forum posts this forum will not appear on the homepage anymore. Instead, just like the "Battlefront" all posts that are made in the general banter section will only appear within that category under the forums tab. Again this is to keep the homepage clean for outdoor related topics and to still give the members a chance to discuss non-outdoor related topics behind the scenes.



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Albion Area, Predator Calling Seminar

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When: 10/20/2012 @ 02:00 PM - 10/30/2012 @ 05:00 PM
Event Type:
Where: Albion Iowa Fire Department
100 North Main Street, Albion, IA
(641) 488-2799 ‎
Albion , IA
Description: This will be a seminar for new and old predator callers alike. Larry Sills (Iowa Sportsman Nick Name : TheDuckMaster ) will be the guest speaker. Larry will cover calling techniques for Coyotes, Red and Grey Fox and Bobcat's Site selection using locating using howls for coyotes will be discussed. He'll touch on techniques for just using lip squeak's for red and grey fox in timbered area's. For bobcats he'll show you how to use the combination of mouth and inexpensive electronic calls to bag your bobcat. Larry has a few videos and photos he will speak too. Larry encourages all to bring questions.

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Predator Calling Seminar and Instruction

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When:09/29/2012 @ 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM

Gander Mountain-Cedar Rapids
(319) 654-8700
2140 Edgewood Road Southwest
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

This will be a seminar for new and old callers alike. Larry Sills AKA: TheDuckMaster will be the host and he will go over site selection, locating using howls, scouting techniques in early and late winter, use of mouth and electronic calls. Larry will leave plenty of time for questions and answers.

GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 41.95908
Longitude: -91.717733

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Delaware County Trout Fishing Tournament

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October 6, 2012 - Saturday
7:00- 9:00a.m. for breakfast & rules meeting - 9:00a.m.-3:30p.m.

Come and experience this first of its kind tournament for Iowa.
Rally Saturday morning at The Glenn Resturaunt in Manchester for breakfast, instructions, and receive the tournament emblem handout (necessary for participation) before
the competition begins at 9 a.m. Bring your digital camera and download cord to compete for prizes. Once you’ve caught your prize trout, snap a photo of
your fish with the with the tournament emblem. Return to the Iowa
DNR Trout Hatchery in Manchester by 3:30 p.m. to be included in
the competition. A light meal and fellowship time follows before
the prizes are awarded. Advanced Registration: Call 563-927-4141
or e-mail macc@manchesteriowa.org or register on-line at www.
manchesteriowa.org/home.html. Limited to 50 participants. Cost:
$25 per registrant prior to Sept 15 - $35 thereafter. Kids (under 12)
eat for $5 and can participate for free. Special Notes: All Iowa DNR
rules and regulations apply. Proceeds will go to fund future stream improvements. Join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ChucklesU?ref=tn_tnmn#!/groups/442860705758601/events/

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Of interest to us all from the close of the 2012 Iowa Legislative Session

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As written in the desmoinesregister.com:

Here’s a quick look at what happened in the Iowa Legislature in the world of pheasants, parks, dams and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, according to DNR lobbyist Diane Ford.

–Lawmakers provided $1 million for low-head dam removal and related river projects for the budget year beginning July 1. That’s in the mid-range of previous appropriations.

–Parks maintenance got a $500,000 boost, to $3.7 million. The department will keep hiring the equivalent of 50 full-time, seasonal workers to help shore up the parks, as ordered by lawmakers last year.

–REAP, the popular preservation program, stayed level at $12 million.

–DNR was told to do a pheasant-stocking study, but only if private money is available. Some biologists say most pheasant-stocking is ineffective, but hunters are looking for ways to boost lower-than-normal bird populations.

–The state will now sell three-year hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, which will save buyers a few bucks and help raise an extra $1 million for fisheries and wildlife projects.

–The lake restoration program will get $6 million, up from this year’s $5.5 million.

–Lawmakers kept their annual commitment of $5 million for park infrastructure work.

–The DNR’s general fund support will rise $50,000, to $12.5 million. Another $2 million will go to flood mitigation work.

–A separate appropriation provides $5 million, combined over two years, for the restoration of Lake Delhi dam.

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Intimidating Tributaries

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Once bitten, twice shy.

It is something we all learn at an early age and can determine our courses of action the older we get. When I was younger and lacking gear and knowledge, to look upon one of Eastern Iowa's tributaries with pole in hand would fill me with dread. Like most, I took the path of least resistance...this included a coffee can full of nightcrawlers and a bobber above a baithook. Yet still, it was so much 'safer' to stick to smaller, or more tranquil environs where I could satisfy my angling curiosities rather than attempt to tackle the Wapsi, Iowa, Cedar, Maquoketa, etc.

When customers come to me and want to get started whether for the fact that they are recently retired and want to give it a go, or young families looking for some adventure, my first and foremost rule is to keep it simple. To me it does not get any simpler than a jig and a bait of choice.

And this is all well and good for an outing to the family farm pond, or shore fishing the local city impoundment, but what about that county park next to the Wapsipinicon? As anyone here can attest, nothing can clear out the tackle box quicker than a fishing trip to one of our rivers without much forethought into the best way to approach the attempt. Discouraging would be an understatement.

With some basic understanding this needs not be the result of the attempt. In an effort to keep the article short, I will try to keep to the basics inherent with the art of jigging moving water, which to my way of thinking gives the most bang for the buck.

The first question obviously: where are the fish? There is an old adage; "90% of the fish are in 10% of the water and 90% of that water is along the shoreline. I hold this to be true to a great extent but with all empirical facts there will always be exceptions as we can all attest.

Another adage is this: There are two ways to catch a fish with bait. Enticement, or provocation. You either get them to bite due to hunger, or by dangling your offering in their 'strike zone' where you finally push their tolerance level to the limit. You will swat at a fly, no matter how full you are, a bass on the other hand can only bite it! This is why a simple twister tailed jig can be so deadly. Any type of minnow imitating bait can be quite effective no matter the quarry, so look for the plastics that do just that and I can guarantee you will get action from your results.

But if you retrieve your presentation where there are no fish? Zip. So, we are back to square one. Whenever I come upon a spot along moving water the very first thing I do is look at the surface. And, I am looking for only one thing, the direction of the flow. All water, as we know, flows downstream. But, there are times where it can't seem to make up its mind and these are the areas we are looking for. Where this water that is shall we say, undecided meets the water that is quite determined to flow downstream-that is called the seam. I've also heard it called the breakline. The important thing is this, from top to bottom this is an area of least resistance and will hold fish.

There are two ways to approach a break. From above or below. Counting the jig becomes paramount to your success. If you are above the break and cast out in the current to let the bait drift down to the break, that number you count will be different than the count you will experience if you stood below the break and cast above it to get it in the same zone.

The count that gets you in that strike zone without catching snags and rocks all day is determined by so many factors that only practice and variations on your differing plastics, line class, jig heads, rod length as well as wind and speed of current can gain you the gratification you desire. I fear that I am already making this too complicated and will have lost some of you looking for help, and if that is the case, I apologize and ask that you only go back and read it again, then get out there and start counting...!

Oh, another thing, river specimens are not quite as sensitive to weather fluctuations as their lake and pond cousins so, anytime is a good time to give it a go. Although, river fluctuations can have dire effects on their temperment and only time on the water will teach you how to manipulate these periods to the best of your abilities. The important thing is, spend a few dollars on the most diminutive of baits that A) you don't need to keep alive and B) can provoke a strike from anything at any time.

I hope this gives you some courage to take on one of Iowa's most unappreciated resources, our tributaries to the Mississippi River. I wish you the best memories in your attempts to come.

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Lucky 7, Costa Rica style

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As you long standing members well know, I have a very understanding, long suffering sportsman's wife. This winter I opted to take her someplace warm to compensate for my having filled one of my "someday I'm gonna" dreams by hunting a Dall Sheep. Being the guy I am, however, I requested that there be a couple of days of fishing which I might do or we could share in the process. Hearing no objections, I did some research on places warm, with some chances to fill another slot in the list.. a tarpon.
Some of my earliest memories of reading sporting literature are those of Capt. Stu Apte catching tarpon. As I fill those someday I'm gonna dreams, I still recall those stories and photos. My research (which I did on line, amazing myself), I found several, and queried 4. 3 were in Florida, one in Costa Rica. We opted for the more adventuresome, probably less crowed, international trip.
We did do some touristy things first, and there are lots of them to choose from. Zip lining and aerial bridges we passed on, but saw a lot of neat stuff. We were disappointed that volcano Arenal had stopped erupting. But enough of that, this is a sporting site, not a travel site. After a difficult foggy night, hairpin curve, slick road trip across the mountains we made our way to Tarponville, Manzanillo, Costa Rica.
Local citizens didn't know it by that name, but the policia were kind enough to call the number provided to get the staff to meet us at the creek, beyond which the lodge lay. Jim DeBerardinis they knew, just not his business name. A retired college prof from Montana, he and his wife and staff knew how to make us feel like family from the outset. A barefoot crossing of the stream, and 200 yard hike with our gear had us in comfortable style, surrounded by jungle, beach, the Caribbean Sea, and fine wood structure. We ate fresh fruit from just beyond the confines, in fact, a coconut that fell a mere 20 yards from the porch. No turista here, we were told, and to this time, I've not proven them wrong.
Day one fishing with my guide, Mushe, and his son, made my arm ache casting a heavy jig, but only a couple of short stikes were produced. Jim caters to fly fishermen, but did not object to my spinning tackle. Ann, his wife didn' care how, but wanted a jackfish for a meal, as did Wilson the cook. We spent the day in a 17 foot boat, with a 40 HP motor on the ocean, but I didn't feel uncomfortable.
I took a day off, and spent it seeing the local sights. We began early on day 3. We could see tarpon rolling in near where the rollers broke over, and being careful not to let any breakers occur behind us, we slipped ever closer to where we could see the activity. A big fin and tail rolled a few yards out, and I cast in front of it. One's first encounter with the Silver King should come with more than 3 meters of line out. The first hit I missed, but instinctively let the jig settle. You've all seen fish flash at a bait right? Imagine a 5 foot flash! And again I missed. I reeled up the slack, let the jig settle, just like I'd missed a crappie and that fish hit right now. This time I stuck him. OUT of the water he came, a mere 10 feet from the boat, threw the jig back at me, and splashed down 2 feet from the boat, leaving me awstruck.
Fish number two I was bound to hook deeper, and when he hit a few minutes later, I laid the wood to him. And, as a result, broke the 25 pound line. OUT of the water he came anyway, with my jig stuck firmly in the corner of his mouth as he jumped twice, disconnected from the source of his aggravation. l "Maybe not so hard next time, you tihink?" queried Mushe, as he tied me a new bait. Fish 3 and 4 were one jump wonders. Number 5 lasted two jumps a 30 yard run and into jump 3 before coming unhooked. Mushe said I wasn't far from average, and I remembered Jim telling me that he'd landed strike numb er 22. When number 6 lasted just two jumps, I was ready for lunch. I told Jim that I wasn't sure what my emotions were, but it seemed I'd never before had so much fun being disappointed and unsuccessful.
As we arrived at the reef in front of the river that separates Panama from Costa Rica that afternood, Mushe noted that the other boats were out a bit furthure. "Maybe they go out for the afternoon" stated my guide. "maybe not" says I as I hooked number 7. One jump, two, now a 50 yard run followed by jump 3 and I was still tied on. An hour later, and several jumps, runs around the boat, under the boat, and lots of just plain pulling, my tarpon came to boatside. I spent the hour talking nicely to the fish about staying hooked and I'd make him a place in history and let him go, and now that he was ours, we did so, somnewhere between 80 and 100 pounds of siver king.
Fish 8 was one of a double header Mushe ( who was using a hand line) and I hooked, and lost . Fish 9 staightened the big hook in the jig. Number 10 was a 3 jumper. Number 11 didn't jump, and was predicted to be a jack by the guide, and 20 minutes later he was proven right. I had my fish for the caribbean dish called "rundown"
We fished next morning, but breakers were 300 yards further out, and fish nowhere to be found. We left 15 minutes too late, and got soaked in a rainstorm. I used my last half day the next morning, and it was plain the weather had negatively affected the fish. We saw a few roll, but only a couple light hits. I quit fishing to continue as a tourist and husband, fine with that, and fulfilled with memories of another bucket list spot filled. I leflt my spinning gear with the cook and manager for their use, and safe keeping for if/when I come back. Or maybe I'll try the fly rod thing, now that I have one under my belt.

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NRA Basic Instructor Training & Pistol Instructor Class

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We need more certified instructors to train the next generation of safe &
responsible shooters! As an instructor, you can experience the personal
satisfaction of teaching others the basics -- the knowledge, skills and
attitudes that will lead to a lifetime of safe, enjoyable and successful
involvement in firearm and shooting activities

NRA Basic Instructor Training (BIT) & Pistol Certification class

Saturday & Sunday May 12th & 13th 2012

Location: North Linn Fish & Game Club Central City, IA

Cost: $285

Range Safety Officer (RSO) certification also available.

For additional Information contact:
John Allen
NRA Training Counselor

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