Leaning on the Wildlife Commission

The following letter, signed by ten Legislators of the State of Washington expressed what we sportfishers have known for a long, long time.

We are getting the short end of the stick and have been for years upon years… The difference now is that we have some political support to aid our cause:


The commercial crabbers response to this letter? They wrote a letter of their own to the Commission, an ultimatum really, threatening legal action if the Commission rules on the crab allocation issue on Friday, October 1, 2010. The Commission responded with a simple statement:

"The WDFW Wildlife Commission will be continuing on with the meeting agenda as planned". Bravo Commissioners! Bravo!!!

With pressure like this on the Commission, we need to support the "Stand-up Ten" Representatives who had the guts to stand up on behalf of the recreational fishermen of Washington State!

How do we support them? With our votes in less than six weeks during the November election.


Quacker College!

That's right folks, it's almost duck hunting season and if you haven't had your scattergun or your calls out of the closet since last year… you need some help!

Luckily, Professor Robert Strong of Duck Calling University and RuckusOutfitters.com is on the case!

Join the "Dean of the Duck Call" Robert Strong at Duck Calling University this Saturday,OCT.2ND from  8:30am-3:30pm and the cost is only 60 ducks… I mean bucks…

Tired of scaring all the ducks away? Tired of listening to your buddy scare all the ducks away? You spend thousands of dollars on boats,guns,dogs,shells,cammo,gas and of course…CALLS. Only to watch ducks fly into another guys spread! Don't let that happen to you this year! Duck Calling University is the most in depth,intense duck calling training course you will ever attend! This is not your Dad's calling cassette tapes you were forced to listen to as a kid on your way to the duck blind!

At Duck Calling University you will learn about the physics of a call and why it works, such things as Bernoulli's principle which states; when a restriction is applied to an airflow it creates an increase in velocity and a decrease in air pressure, and how that directly relates to how a call works and sounds.

You will learn about the physiology of you the duck caller and how your own resonate chamber is used to manipulate that restriction to change the pitch and sound of a duck call. You will learn the reference words and exercises used to make you the best caller in the field, from basic quacks to the down right nasty refuge feed chatters, Cajun squeals and bouncing hens you've always wanted to learn.

I'll bet you have a drawer full of calls at home that just don't sound quite right? We will teach you to cut and tune your own reeds to fit the way you want them to sound. Problems stickn your calls? We explain why this happens and what you can do to fix it, and I guarantee you its NOT the call.

Join National Call Maker of the Year Troy Taylor and Champion Caller Robert Strong of Taylor Talker Calls and Ruckus Outfitters Saturday, October 2nd from 8:30am to 3:30 pm in Orting, WA at Big J's Outdoors. Cost is $60.00 and half down is required to hold your seat, enroll now because space is limited. Check us out at www.ruckusoutfitters.com

Put yourself in the picture at Duck Calling University! 

Buzz Ramsey’s Moose

With hunting season in full swing my email account is starting to light up with photos from successful big game hunts from folks in the Outdoor Line network. I just recieved this photo and report from northwest angling legend and Yakima Bait Company marketing representative Buzz Ramsey after his recent moose hunt in Northern British Columbia. Nice work Buzz! 

Buzz Ramsey's 2010 British Columbia Moose Measured 61"
"Just returned from northern BC and the Moose hunt of a lifetime. Check out the photo of my 61 incher. My partner, John Weinheimer, harvested a beautiful 55 incher. We were hunting with guide/outfitter Mike Danielson of Little Dease Ventures. The hunting area Mike has exclusive rights to hunt contains 3,400 square miles of wilderness – that's larger than Yellowstone National Park!"-Buzz Ramsey


Grays Harbor and Harry Connick, Mission Accomplished!!

I finally got the chance to fish the John's River mouth in Grays Harbor for salmon.  In the past, football and lack of knowledge about the fishery have always been in the way of me trying this great and sometimes wide open salmon fishery.  That all changed this past weekend when John Keizer of Salt Patrol invited me aboard the Lowrance boat to give marine area 2-2 a try. 

John sent an email out early in the week with a few different ideas of where to fish this past Sunday.  With Grays Harbor being one of the options I quickly responded with an "I'm in".  Of course in the excitement of finally having an opportunity to learn this fishery from one of the best, I forgot of my committment to my wife Sonya to attend the Harry Connick Jr. concert Sunday night for her birthday.  I explained to her that this was a geat opportunity to get this fishery dialed in so that I could take her sometime.  She was unimpressed but said "Just try to be back on time".  Next, I had to convince Keizer to come off the water early so that I could get back in time.  I think John made the mistake of mentioning my delimma to his wife Norinne and of course she sided with Sonya so the stage was set, I was finally going to get to fish Grays Harbor.

I met John and Dave Aumen, who fishes the Simrad boat, at the boat launch in Westport at 6:30 in the morning.  To our surprise the wind was blowing about 40 knots and the Coast Guard guy met us at the boat launch and advised us that the bar was closed.  Luckily we were headed the other direction and hopefully finding some cover.  As we went further into the harbor the chop laid down to a fishable level and we started trolling just short of what everyone calls the goalpost.  We had to go to 8 ounces of lead with the wind being what it was.  The lead was rigged to a slider with about 12 inches of line.  From there we had a swivel with about 20 inches of leader, another bead chain swivel to a Kone Zone flasher and then about 4 ft. of leader to a cut plug hering.  We were dropping to the bottom and giving it a crank to fish just off the bottom.  Checking your bait often is a must as well, there was plenty of grass around and you aren't fishing if your pulling a bunch of it around on your rig.

As we trolled further into the harbor the wind started to lay down, the tide started moving and it was fish on.  Dave caught the first, a nice coho that had plenty of fight in it.

After that it was my turn, but by the way it fought we suspected that it was a king.  Our suspicions were confirmed and it we released a mid-twenties king.  Of course I told my Outdoor Line compadres it was a mid-forties king and the text started flying from Nelly.  The jealousy was obvious but as usual, Nelly's words provided a good laugh.  Next up it was Capt. John with a nice keeper coho.

After that fish the bite started to slow and we were left to troll around and wait for the next tide change.  Captain John had explained that this fishery is really dependant on the tides with the bite turning on and off around the tide changes.  We trolled up past  the Johns River mouth to the water tower and back with a one coho after another teasing us with big splashes as if to tell us that they were there but not going to bite.  Quite a few other boats joined us before the afternoon tide and sure enough as Capt. John was saying the bite should turn on I had another fish on, another mid twenties that we released. 

Dave followed that up with a really nice king of his own, this one we had to chase a bit.  One of the really fun things about this fishery is that your fishing some shallow water and the fish make some blistering runs.  As fun as it is to catch these nice kings, I had promised Sonya some delicious salmon for her birthday.  Just as I was thinking this to myself, wham! my rod went down and stayed down.  Finally a fiesty coho for the dinner table. 

We caught another king and a few smaller silvers and then it was time to go.  It was hard to leave because we each new there were fish still there to catch but John and Dave were gracious and got me back to the dock on time.  We heard later that the bite continued after we left and as hard as it was to hear that, it made it all worth it to see my wife's smiling face as we got to our seats just in time for the first song.  Thanks Capt. John and Dave for a great day out on the water and thanks Sonya for putting up with my fishing addiction.

Painted Skulls, the artwork of Jana Waller

On my office wall is a European skull mount of a beautiful whitetail that I harvested in Eastern Washington eleven years ago. While my knuckle-dragging friends and I think it's quite attractive, the rest of the folks that spy the antlered skull perched on the wall either give me an "ewww" or they curl a lip and walk away in silence. No telling what they're thinking.

So when I came across Jana Waller's art work on the inter-webs a year ago I was vacuumed into the world of…Painted Skulls. Maybe, just maybe, I could turn that whitetail skull into a piece of art and get these folks to take a second loooong look at the whitetail. Check out the skulls below and you'll see what I mean.

Here's the Cliff Notes version of Jana's life in the field and her unique artwork:

How long have you been hunting?

When my father decided I was tall enough and strong enough to hike the hayfields of Wisconsin without complaining, I had my first introduction to hunting. Years later I remember missing my first 6th grade dance because I was on the road to South Dakota for a week of chasing ringnecks. Some of my fondest teenage memories include goose blinds and pheasant fields, but it wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I picked up my first bow.

In the past 18 years of archery hunting, I’ve been blessed with eight beautiful whitetails, two of them making the record book. This year alone I’ve traveled to Africa, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and back to my home state of Wisconsin with my bow in tow.

What's the most exciting hunt you've been on?

By far the most exciting hunt I’ve been on was my spot and stalk Alberta mule deer hunt just a couple of weeks ago. After countless hours of busted stalks and belly crawling through muddy barley fields, I arrowed a nice mule deer in the last few hours of the hunt.  My next challenge or dream hunt includes my new handmade recurve bow that should arrive on my doorstep next week. I’m so excited about trying the traditional, primitive style of archery that the target is irrelevant. 

 Jana's 2010 Alberta Mule Deer

How did you get into painting skulls for a living?

Along with a passion for hunting, I’ve always had an interest in art and in 2008 I merged the two. After returning home from a trip to Santa Fe, my Dad showed me a photo of a painted ram skull that he saw in a shop. 

I began painting skulls that I had found over the years of shed hunting and after numerous requests from friends to paint one for them I launched my website www.paintedskulls.com. 

To add a Southwest flair, I started beading skulls with turquoise, tiger eye, jade and other semi-precious stones. Another popular design is the pheasant feathered skull and I recently beaded a beautiful 11 point whitetail in swarovski crystals. Custom design is an option for my customers own personal skulls as well as purchasing the skulls through me.


How much does it cost?

An average painted or feathered skull costs $295 to $495 and the beaded varieties cost between $395 and $750.

What other projects are you working on?

I’m also currently working on a tv pilot about my skull business and my lifestyle of hunting for a major network. If all goes well, we’ll start shooting the series in the beginning of next year which will focus on my skulls business, but also my passion for preserving our hunting heritage. 

I believe the average non-hunter does'nt comprehend that hunters are more connected to the environment, spend more dollars towards habitat preservation and herd management, and have a better understanding of conservation. It’s my hope to bring that point of view to the masses. I also Prostaff with numerous hunting companies and feel so blessed to be a part of an amazing industry.

If you haven't clicked on the link to her website yet, please do. Jana's artwork is available at Roughing It In Style rustic furniture in Madison, Wisconsin and will become available at other midwest retailers soon. 

Twenty Pounds of Rainbow Trout

 Guide Justin Crump grips Marina's 33 inch, 20 plus pound Bristol Bay drainage rainbow trout

We'll have longtime Bristol Bay flyfishing guide Nanci Morris from Alaska Sportsman's Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska on the Outdoor Line tomorrow to talk about the sicko flyfishing that's happening right now for rainbow trout in her neck of the woods. Trout averaging 23 inches are inhaling flesh flies up there right now and the action will continue until the ice comes. Tune in tomorrow morning to hear what Nanci has to say about the best trout fishery in the world! 

Elk: Alone.

Larry Stauffer has a passion.

The seeds of his passion, sown in his youth at his father's "duck shack" on the lower Skagit River, reached fruition in Idaho's high country when Larry's arrow found a Pope & Young class herd bull elk.
Taking a record class bull elk with a bow is an event in and of itself. When you consider the fact that Stauffer did it by himself, it brings his hunting achievement into an entirely new realm.

Stauffer does his homework.  Interviews with game biologists, analysis of reams of raw data and removing boot leather for weeks at a time has brought his hunting ground into a focus: "I specifically target the area because of the rough terrain and the small heard size. That translates to less hunters and lower pressured animals. Wolf predation in this unit has been determined to be the primary factor in the reduction of elk numbers. The herd had fallen from over 14,000 head of elk to less than 3,000 largely due to the reintroduction of wolves. Many hunters are giving up on the region, I just decided to hunt smarter."

Map study also comes significantly into play. Stauffer explains, "I am always looking for new ground and have come to recognize the productivity of a very specific topography for this area: Long ridges situated at 5,500 to 6,500 feet of elevation with well timbered west facing slopes littered with finger ridges. The terrain needs to be just right to consistently hold the critters and generally includes steep brushy escape routes and more open bench-like rutting areas. “

During the first six days of the hunt, Larry had a number of encounters with elk and an unusually interesting encounter with a wolf.
 "I was set up cow calling" Stauffer grins, "and this wolf comes in at a dead run. He hit the brakes with all fours, stopping at 10yards when he saw me and skedaddled. He was figuring on an easy dinner".

To set up for the seventh and what ended up as the final day of the hunt,  Larry left his base camp the night before and drove his rig as close as he could to his targeted area and spent the night in his truck.  "It was that or get up at 2:00 am. I hiked up in the dark so I could be at the spot I wanted to hunt at first light. Once I got set up, I quietly chirped the cow call. I always start quietly as to not spook elk that may be close. To my surprise, I got an answer from a bull that was so far away, I thought it coincidental. I waited a few minutes, cow called again and he once again answered immediately!"

To Stauffer's surprise, the bull was heading up the mountain to corral this cow into his harem. The herd bull came up, bugling frequently and once he got to Larry's level, he would come no further.  "It was like he was saying "I've come this far, now you've got to follow me."

It was then and there that Larry knew that he would have to change tactics to get this big bull within range of his bow. "He started back down the mountain, bugling and trying to get the cow I was imitating to follow him back down to his harem. I morphed into bull mode and challenged him with a bugle, but he continued down the hill. It was then I knew I had to close the distance between us and charge him with no regard to the noise I was making."

Stauffer's strategy has been hard earned by the teachings of several antlered "professors" who had given him the slip in seasons past and a heavy horned bull that fell to his arrow last year. "I knew I had to escalate my level of aggression, to piss him off so much that he was likely to make a mistake. Finally, he had enough of me charging toward him and he charged back up the hill. He ran so hard, so fast, that I barely had the time to get an arrow nocked."

Larry's improvised ambush location didn't give him much cover but a tree to back up against was all that it took. "I was at full draw with the bull at 25 yards and he stopped with a small tree covering his vitals, he turned and looked right at me and I knew he was gonna turn inside out and run. In one motion I leaned to clear the tree and released my arrow watching it disappear into the sweet-spot! He trotted away, then slowed and I watched him starting to weave. I heard him moan and fall…it was over!"

Bow hunters often make the mistake of following their game too quickly which can lead to spooked wounded animals that can burst into the brush and easily become lost. Not Larry, "I have a little ritual after I let the arrow go on an animal. I take my boots off so I can't go after them too early. It's hard to be patient when you have an animal like that on the ground but when I finally ventured that direction, I found him not ten feet from where I last saw him.

"There he was, ten feet from where I thought he fell." 

So what does a solo bow hunter do when you have an animal the size of a horse on the ground? "Well, at nearly 800 pounds on the hoof, you're not going to move him" Larry laughs, "You've got to take him apart where he falls"

Larry bagged-up and caped out his prize, located his arrow that has passed clean through the bull and placing it back in his quiver made his trek back to camp. The following day he was back with a couple friends and the horses to pack out the load.

Larry got the cape out on the first trip out and came back the next day with a couple friends on horseback to get the rest of Larry's prize. 

With any luck at all, an elk steak will be appearing on a plate in front of me this winter at a duck shack on the Skagit River. You've got to like it when a good hunting story comes full circle!

The Economic Benefits of Conservation

Bryan Irwin, the PNW Executive Director of CCA, recently wrote this article for, The Ripple Effect, a CCA newsletter for PNW members.  This article is a real eye opener. With his permission I am able to share it with you.

When you examine the economics of recreational fishing, it’s clear that it fuels a major consumer goods and service industry. It also has a positive impact on conservation. How, you might ask? I have wrestled with that question over the years until I recently saw a statistic that was an eye opener when comparing recreational and commercial fisheries. 

Of our nation’s total fish harvest, 97% is commercial and 3% is recreational 1. Think about that for a moment. In the Pacific Northwest we spend countless hours arguing over a 5% swing in the allocation in the Columbia River salmon harvest, a number that is a rounding error in the total harvest of salmon when looking at the big harvest picture. 

Now, it stands to reason that we as a society are realizing a huge economic benefit from the commercial use of 97% of our marine resource, right?. Not really.  Nationwide, saltwater recreational fishing contributed $82.2 billion in sales to our nation’s economy and provides 553,000 jobs. Commercial fisheries (finfish) landings bring $28 billion in sales and 423,000 jobs 2. Yes you read that right, with 3% of the allocation the recreational sector contributes nearly 3 times to the US economy.  Closer to home in the Columbia Basin, recreational fisheries provide $35.8 Million in economic benefit compared to $2.1 Million from commercial (non-tribal and tribal combined) harvest.3 That’s 17 times more benefit from recreational fisheries with much less impact on the resource.

So, back to the conservation question. As harsh as it sounds, our harvested fish are essentially a resource, one in which our fisheries managers trade away the conservation benefits in exchange for the economic benefits. Sure, you could argue in isolated circumstances that some of this harvest is excess to conservation needs, but in most cases a harvested fish is one less fish to contribute to the next generation. If you look at the big picture, its pretty clear where we need to reduce harvest. The good news is that modest increases in the recreational share will more than offset any economic consequences of reducing the overall harvest.  And, reducing overall harvest benefits conservation.

Another conservation benefit of recreational fishing that provides economic value is the funding of conservation programs. I’m not talking about the support of CCA and other state and regional fish conservation groups; I’m referring to the unique tax on fishing tackle, motorboat fuel and other sportfishing equipment that has generated $5.7 billion for fisheries conservation, clean water programs and habitat restoration dating back to 1950. Our fishing license sales (nationally) give back $560 million annually to state conservation and education programs. In a very tangible way, the sportfishing economy gives back to the resource more than any other user group.There will always be room for commercial fisheries, as there should be. However, the current levels of harvest are not sustainable, and as our population grows, the pressure is just going to get worse.  But cutting sportfishing opportunities is not the solution. In fact, economics tells us the opposite is true.

New Derby Added to Northwest Salmon Series

NEW, Winter Blackmouth Derby to Offer $10,000 Prize

The “Resurrection Derby” at Friday Harbor – Newest addition to the Salmon Derby Series

Friday Harbor, WA (September 21, 2010) – The San Juan Islands Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers is pleased to announce the Northwest’s newest salmon derby, The Resurrection Derby, which will award a first-place cash prize of $10,000. This newest addition to the NMTA’s Northwest Salmon Derby Series will be held December 3rd & 4th at the Port of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

For a mere $400.00 entry fee, those 100 teams (with up to 4 anglers per team), lucky enough to get a spot, will vie for $15,000 in guaranteed purse money offering a 1st place prize of $10,000, 2nd place $2,500, 3rd place $1,000 and a $1,000 "Mystery Fish" prize during this two-day event.   “I envisioned a serious winter derby for serious salmon anglers … an event very similar to the old Rosario Derby” said club President and derby executive committee member, Jimmy Lawson.

Derby planners have scheduled the event to coincide with the opening week of the winter fishing season in the San Juan Islands.  “The winter season in the San Juans is a selective fishery.  We want to raise the awareness of the benefits of selective fishing, while promoting good sportsmanship and resource stewardship” said derby organizer, Andy Holman. “Everyone who enters this derby is helping the fishery” said Bobby Wilson, derby organizer.  Wilson went on to say, “All net proceeds from the derby, which is staffed by club and community volunteers, will go directly towards salmon enhancement projects”.

“We are pleased and encouraged by the enthusiasm and support shown by The Port of Friday Harbor, the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce, businesses and the community” said event Chairman Kevin Klein. He went on to say, “Not only will this provide an economic benefit for our local economy in a dark time of the year, but will also give us the opportunity to showcase Friday Harbor and all it has to offer while providing needed funds for salmon enhancement”.

Tickets for the Resurrection Derby at Friday Harbor will go on sale in late-September. For more information, please go to: www.resurrectionderby.com   

Are you ready for Opening Day?

Kim McCarthy's 2008 Twisp, Washington whitetail came after 6 straight days of hunting hardThe modern firearm general rifle season is less than a month away this year and we have a measly 8 days to score a buck in many of the Eastern Washington game management units, a little longer in Western Washington. That means you'd better have your game face on come October 16th because you're not going to have much time to dilly-dally around.  

Get in Shape
I guess I'm a little old school, preferring to hike or bike as far away from roads and people as I can when I'm deer hunting. Every year there's a story or two about a lucky bugger that scored a good buck within spitting distance of camp, but by and large the odds of getting into good numbers of animals goes up substantially the further you get away from people. It's a helluva lot easier to do this, and not pay for it later, if you're in at least decent shape.

My preseason, take-the-edge-off workout regimen consists of two miles a day on the treadmill, followed by three sets of fourty calf lifts, sixty total situps, three sets of twenty lunges with dumb bells, and an upper body workout with dumb bells. I do this four days a week for six weeks prior to hunting season and will mix in a few hikes and mountain bike rides before the opener. Two weeks before the opener I'll crank out three to four miles on the treadmill each time I visit the evil machine, wearing my hunting boots to get the ol' dogs, my feet, callused up and ready to roll. 

Even though this isn't the Insanity workout it serves me well and allows me to travel further and hunt longer than most other hunters in the field.

Don't have the time? Taking the dog for a long walk, pushing the kids up a hill in the stroller, and walking on lunch break are things you can do to get the feet and legs in shape. Something is better than nothing at all.

Scent Control
Has it sunk in yet…eight days! You finally see a legal buck within range and a swirling wind wofts the scent of your campfire and cigar laquered bad self up his schnozzola and before you can get the rifle up…he's Ghandi. All you needed was a few more seconds…right? 

Scent control is about increasing the odds of success and with only eight days we need all the help we can get. There are so many products out there nowadays that it just doesn't make any sense to not take advantage of them.

A product that I started using a couple years ago is Scent Away by Hunter Specialties. I found a kit at Sportco that contained laundry detergent, boot powder, shampoo, bar soap, and deoderant. I've gotten in the habit of using this stuff religiously before each and every deer hunt and it helps.

All of my hunting clothes are washed twice in Scent Away detergent and then I tuck them away in a Scent Safe garment bag until it's time to hunt. Remove all the Christmas tree scent thingy-me-jiggers from your vehicle and if possible keep the de-scented clothes in the Scent Safe bag and don them in the field just prior to hunting. Don't spend a bunch time de-scenting your clothes only to re-scent them in the vehicle on the drive to the woods. 

By doing this you can also avoid fuel contamination when you're juicing up the truck at zero-dark-thirty on the way to the woods. Wear rubber gloves or use a bunch of rags to keep fuel off your hands and avoid standing directly in front of the filler tube, as the fumes are just as obnoxious. There's no sense in going thru all this trouble only to head out smelling like a molotov cocktail.

If you're apt to lounge around the campfire spinning yarns at night toss the hunting clothes back in the garbage bag and jump in a pair of sweats. 

Once the hunt starts I use Solid Scent Wafers in fresh earth to further mask my scent and I constantly watch the winds direction. If I'm approaching an area that looks promising I'll approach it from down wind of deer that could be using the area. If the wind swirls around or I screw up, however, the scent control precautions I've taken will hopefully buy me a few seconds to get off a shot.

Sighting in at the Range
I wasn't very serious about deer hunting at first. The year was 1989 and a college team mate had asked me to go deer hunting with him. I'd hunted plenty with a shotgun, but the premise of sighting in a rifle was lost on me.

On opening morning I worked my way onto a hillside full of buck brush and I'll-be-damned if there wasn't a fork and horn mule deer standing broadside looking at me at a hundred and fifty yards. Seven shots later the deer was still standing there, likely wondering what all the darned ruckus was about. I quit shooting, sat down on a rock, and laughed until I cried. The deer walked off.

I enjoyed the heck out of that trip and vowed to roll up my shirt sleeves and do better. When I hit the range later to test out the guns accuracy the bullets weren't even hitting the paper at a hundred yards.

I still shoot the same old gun, a Belgium Browning 30.06 that's been glass-bedded and fitted with a Burris 3 X 9 scope. It's not a sniper rifle, by any means, but I've managed to harvest fourteen deer with the old girl since that day in '89 because I've honed it's accuracy at the range. I could've bought a better and more modern rifle a long time ago…but again…I'm old school.

For starters, I'd find a good ballistics chart on the internet and study up on your caliber and ammunition. I use the Winchester Ballistics Calculator to chart the Winchester XP3 150 grain loads that work great in my Browning.

I sight in at two inches high at 100 yards, which puts the bullet dead on at 200 yards with seven inches of drop at 300 yards. Last year I held six inches above the kill zone at 250 yards to take my beautiful Washington blacktail. The shot was a perfect double-lunger and the deer was down quickly. Had I not studied the ballistics chart and done my homework at the range I would have probably guessed on this shot and possibly missed.

Getting the Gear in Order
Within the next week I'll spend some time laying out all the gear on the garage floor that'll be utilized on the hunt. It's already packed away in a sealed Tupperware container in the garage and doesn't take long at all to organize.

I'll hit my binoculars with an anti-fogging agent, check both the day pack and the frame pack for rips or tears, sharpen knives, and check the batteries in my head lamp and two way radios. I yard on my Danner Pronghorn boot laces to make sure they're not going to break and organize first aid kits, emergency supplies, and any other necessary items like game bags and a buck hoist.

Hopefully it's donned on you by now that there isn't much time this year to score a buck here in Washington. We've got a little more time in Western Washington to tag a blacktail, but the Eastern Washington hunts, specifically in Chelan and Okanogan counties, are going to be short and sweet. Get the work done before hand and buy yourself a few more seconds out there this year. Those few seconds can mean the difference between success and a big buck story.

Start doing your homework right now by logging onto the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website and checking out the upcoming hunting seasons. Oh, and send me a photo of the buck or elk you get this fall. I'm into that sort of thing!